The Kim Davis saga seems to have just ended in a whimper. Returning to work Monday morning, the embattled Kentucky county clerk announced that though she still refuses to issue marriages licenses herself, she will abide U.S. District Judge David Bunning’s order not to interfere with her deputies issuing them.
She told reporters gathered outside the Rowan County Courthouse Monday morning that she believes allowing her office to issue the licenses to same-sex couples means that she is being “forced to disobey her God.” She repeatedly called such licenses — which she will not permit to bear her name or title — “unauthorized,” echoing her lawyers’ claims that they are totally invalid.
“I want the whole world to know … If any [deputy clerk] feels they must issue an unauthorized license to avoid being thrown in jail, I understand their tough choice, and I will take no action against them,” she said. “However, any unauthorized license that they issue will not have my name, my title or my authority on it. Instead, the license will state that they are issued pursuant to a federal court order.”
If a form contains her name — which it normally would for the sole purpose of confirming the legal validity of the license — she believes it “violates my deeply-held religious convictions and conscience. For me, this would be an act of disobedience to my God.” Davis still insists that any license issued by the office is “issued under the authority of Kim Davis, County Clerk,” which is why she is so adamant that they are “unauthorized.”
The legality of the licenses is an open question, but there is precedent in Kentucky law for deputies to perform the duties of their superiors, and the couples who sued believe the licenses to be valid. It’s unlikely that the validity of the licenses would ever be questioned unless one of the couples who receives one has a contentious divorce and files a challenge. Still, Davis’ term lasts until 2018, so if Monday morning’s compromise remains the status quo through the end of her term, several hundred couples could be impacted.