Kim Davis—the Rowan County, KY, clerk who stopped issuing all marriage licenses so that she would not have to issue them to same-sex couples—filed a motion today with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that her own case is moot and should be dismissed. But that’s not all: she also argues that the court should throw out the preliminary injunction issued by the trial court last year, which prohibits Davis from refusing marriage licenses altogether.
In case you need a refresher, here’s how we got here. Mere hours after the Supreme Court granted marriage equality to all couples, Davis announced that neither she nor her deputies would issue marriage licenses to any couples. Understandably, she was sued. Understandably, the court didn’t buy her arguments, which were just discrimination thinly masked as religious liberty.
Instead, the court issued a preliminary injunction that ordered Davis to not interfere with the issuance of marriage licenses by the Rowan County Clerk’s Office. The court’s order did not require Davis personally to sign the licenses, but that wasn’t enough for her. At first, she would not let even her deputies sign the licenses. And then, after being held in contempt, she allowed the deputies to sign versions of the licenses that she had altered—and she argued that these licenses were not legally valid.
Davis appealed to the Sixth Circuit (read AU’s brief here), and while the appeal was pending, new Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed into law SB 216. SB 216 changes the state’s marriage-licensing law so that, among other things, county clerks no longer have to sign marriage licenses.
In her motion filed today, Davis all but takes SB 216 for a victory lap. Because SB 216 protects her desire to not sign the marriage licenses, Davis argues, there is no need to retain the trial court’s order against her. But don’t be fooled—Davis’ office still has to provide licenses. And Davis has shown before that without an order from the court barring her actions—and even with one—she is willing to take the law into her own hands.
Despite what she may believe, Davis, like every other government official, is not allowed to use the power of her office to refuse service to people of whom her religion disapproves. No government official should need a court order to respect her constituents’ basic legal rights. Until Davis realizes this, the trial court’s order should stay in place, and the victory should belong to those Rowan County couples who can finally get married.
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Follow Bradley Girard online at @BradleySGirard