There had to be a better way to handle Kim Davis’ refusal to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.
It’s quite clear from the political grandstanding that took place Tuesday with her release from jail after five days behind bars that the punitive tactic was the wrong way to go. Davis, Rowan County, Ky., clerk, walked free after a federal judge had ordered her locked up for contempt for not issuing the marriage licenses based on her religious beliefs. The judge lifted the contempt ruling, saying he was satisfied that her deputies were fulfilling their obligation to grant the licenses to gay couples.
But the initial action drew a sideshow of praise from the religious right, which has been against the Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, allowing same sex couples to be married. Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Sen. Ted Cruz even showed up for the national TV news spectacle of Davis’ release from jail Tuesday.
The limelight in front of the supercharged audience was better than remaining in the political shadow of Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.
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The jailing, though, of Davis turned her into an instant celebrity. Neither her fame nor the religious right’s opposition for gay marriage is likely to subside soon.
People can only hope that eventually it will turn into one of those ridiculous, laugh-and-point historic George Wallace moments in which he said “segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”
But today we will shake our heads over Davis’ resistance. After she was jailed, Davis’ six deputy clerks, except her son, agreed to issue the licenses to gay couples. U.S. District Judge David Bunning noted that the licenses that had been altered so that Rowan County — rather than Davis’ name — appears on them.
Perhaps the federal judge should have turned to Davis’ deputies first and let her sulk and sink into obscurity after the furor she created.