Photo via Wikimedia Commons / Gage Skidmore
A few days ago, Kim Davis was a curiosity, and an almost impressively alpha conservative. Davis is a county clerk who vehemently opposes giving marriage licenses to same-sex couples, something she’s required to do by a newly-tweaked federal law. When people found out, she just sat behind a desk and got yelled at for imposing her notion of marriage (divorce yes; homosexuality no) on the people of Rowan County, Kentucky.
Then today, she was dragged away to jail for contempt of court, and became the political flavor of the week. Davis has been on the lips of most of the GOP Presidential candidates now, and most of them—though not all—have been making her into the kind of hero you become when you’re carted off to jail for your beliefs.
Ted Cruz is making it a whole big thing. He issued an elaborate press release on the topic. The title included the quote “I call upon every believer, every constitutionalist, every lover of liberty to stand with Kim Davis.” In the rest of the release, he just gushed more.
“I stand with Kim Davis. Unequivocally. I stand with every American that the Obama Administration is trying to force to chose between honoring his or her faith or complying with a lawless court opinion.”
Mike Huckabee also has Davis-mania. He’s issued several enthusiastic tweets, and a petition:
Exercising <a href=
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) September 3, 2015
It’s not clear what Scott Walker thinks. He seems to want to have it both ways. Here are two sound bites from an appearance on Laura Ingraham’s radio show. A fun game might be to try and extrapolate a coherent position:
“In the end, this is the balance that you gotta—have to—have in America, between the laws that are out there. But ultimately ensuring that the Constitution is upheld.”
“I read that the Constitution is very clear that people have freedom of religion—you have the freedom to practice religious beliefs out there, it’s a fundamental right.”
Rand Paul, from Davis’ home state of Kentucky, told The Boston Herald even gay people should be against putting Davis in jail.
“I think it’s absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty […] I think it’s a real mistake. And even those on the other side of the issue, I think it sets their movement back.”
Bobby Jindal was very supportive of Davis when he spoke to The Huffington Post:
“I don’t think anyone should have to choose between following their conscience and religious beliefs and giving up their job and facing financial sanctions. I think it’s wrong to force Christian individuals or business owners. We are seeing government today discriminate against whether it’s clerks, florists, musicians or others. I think that’s wrong. I think you should be able to keep your job and follow your conscience.”
Several other candidates are less enthusiastic, mostly saying that she works for the government, so she shouldn’t practice civil disobedience against said government.
Here’s Chris Christie‘s version of that, as told to Laura Ingraham:
“What I’ve said before is for someone who works in the government… has a bit of a different obligation than someone who’s in the private sector or obviously working for educational institutions that’s religiously based or others.”
Lindsey Graham doesn’t seem to be a fan. He said this to radio host Hugh Hewitt:
“As a public official, comply with the law or resign.”
In a roundabout way, Carly Fiorina also told Hewitt Davis should resign:
“Is she prepared to continue to work for the government—be paid for by the government, in which case she needs to execute the government’s will? Or does she feel so strongly about this that she wants to sever her employment with the government, and go seek employment elsewhere where her religious liberties would be paramount over her duties as as government employee? […] Given the fact that the government is paying her salary, I think [civil disobedience]is not appropriate.”
Ben Carson won’t talk about it. A Buzzfeed editor couldn’t force a quote out of him, but tweeted that he wasn’t exactly pro-Davis:
Rep for <a href=
— Kyle Blaine (@kyletblaine) September 1, 2015
Notably absent are some of the GOP frontrunners, including Jeb Bush and Donald Trump, perhaps because they were too busy sniping at each other today. If Donald Trump weighs in on this issue, though, chances are you’ll hear about it.
With Davis locked up, her county is now officially on track to start circumventing her authority and issuing marriage licenses. Five of six deputy county clerks are now going to begin issuing licenses. The one deputy still refusing to do so is Davis’ son.
Follow Mike Pearl on Twitter.