WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2015 – On Monday Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis returned to work after having spent five days in jail in what former Arkansas governor and current presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is calling America’s criminalization of Christianity.
The high-profile case generated fierce opposition to Davis’ incarceration by U.S. District Judge David Bunning for her religious beliefs. One of the questions Christian supporters have asked is why Davis was seemingly targeted for denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples, when at least three other Kentucky county clerks have also refused to issue marriage licenses, according to NBC News.
While Davis, who has become a national symbol and standard-bearer for Christian religious civil rights, was sitting in jail, the other clerks continued to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In fact, NBC News reported that Whitley County clerk Kay Schwartz’s office was not granting marriage to gay or lesbian couples but only to heterosexual couples.
Was Davis targeted by same-sex marriage activists? Another Kentucky county clerk, Davis of Casey County, has not issued any marriage licenses at all and has suffered no legal repercussions for it.
Even though the Rowan County clerk vowed to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, CNN reported that Carmen and Shannon Wampler-Collins successfully received a modified marriage license on Monday.
Yet there is a question whether the work-around accommodation allowed by federal Judge Bunning, who jailed Davis, is legal under Kentucky law. The judge even expressed reservations about the certainty of its validity. The new marriage license that the same-sex couple received on Monday reads, “Pursuant to federal court order“ on it. Davis’ name and Rowan County is missing.
Another legal challenge which will certainly be litigated in Kentucky and other states that have passed a Religious Freedom Act is whether a person like Davis was illegally jailed in spite of the Kentucky law’s protection.
Kentucky’s Religious Freedom Act, passed in 2013, vetoed by the governor and overridden by the legislature provides:
To specify that government shall not burden a person’s or religious organization’s freedom of religion; protect the right to act or refuse to act on religious grounds; specify that government shall prove by clear and convincing evidence prove a compelling governmental interest in establishing a burden on the freedom of religion; specify what constitutes a burden.
Joining Standing at Freedom’s Gate host Kevin Fobbs is Liberty Counsel senior litigation attorney Roger Gannam, who is representing Kentucky Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis. Has Christian freedom become criminalized and is Davis protected by the Kentucky’s Religious Freedom Act? Or has it been forfeited by the U.S. Supreme Court? U.S. Constitutional religious freedom and protection at risk on the next Standing at Freedom’s Gate.