Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has come to the defense of Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis, who now faces contempt charges for violating a court order by refusing to issue marriage licenses.
Speaking to Boston Herald Radio on Monday, Paul reiterated his odd stance that the government should completely get out of the business of licensing marriages. Though he downplayed it in the interview, he has previously called for removing the word “marriage” from all laws, eliminating the hundreds of benefits married couples receive and requiring that all such legal ties be established in individual contracts that all couples would have to hire lawyers to draft for themselves.
“There never should have been any limitations on people of the same sex having contracts, but I do object to the state putting its imprimatur to the specialness of marriage on something that’s different from what most people have defined as marriage for most of history,” he explained. “So one way is just getting the state out completely and I think that’s what we’re headed towards, actually. Whether or not people who still work for the state can do it without the legislature changing it is something I’m going to leave up to the courts exactly how to do it.” Paul has previously said that he is “not a legal authority on that.”
Paul’s unrealistic plan to remove marriage from the laws has been part of a strategy on his part to avoid affirming marriage for same-sex couples without actively working against marriage equality. For example, back in 2013, he said that even if states continued issuing marriage contracts, if the debate on same-sex marriage continued for another couple decades, he hoped opponents might “still win back the hearts and minds of people.”
Paul’s support for Davis’ refusal to comply with the law seems consistent with his hope that supporters of marriage equality might still be convinced to change their minds. “I think people who do stand up and are making a stand to say that they believe in something,” he said, “is an important part of the American way.”
So far, only one other candidate has spoken out about Davis. Carly Fiorina, however, took a different position. “When you are a government employee as opposed to say, an employee of another kind of organization, then in essence, you are agreeing to act as an arm of the government,” she explained, calling Davis’ civil disobedience “not appropriate.” Likewise, Even the conservative Heritage Foundation has admitted that Davis has overstepped.
Paul’s support for Davis is not entirely surprising. Besides his belief about erasing the government’s role in marriage, Paul has also cosponsored the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which would prevent the federal government from acting against businesses and non-profits that discriminate against same-sex married couples. The Republican National Committee endorsed the bill last month, noting various forms of discrimination against same-sex couples that should be allowed.