Kentucky Governor-elect Bevin will bail Kim Davis out on day one

Matt Bevin will issue an executive order “right away” that will take county clerks’ names off of marriage licenses in the State of Kentucky, thereby absolving Kim Davis and other county clerks opposed to marriage equality of any legal responsibility to, in their minds, endorse same-sex marriages.

Kim Davis is currently suing the current governor, Steve Beshear, in an attempt to get him to issue a similar executive order.

On its face, this seems like a reasonable enough compromise. Same-sex couples get their marriage licenses and we never have to hear from Kim Davis ever again. She can do her job without her (bigoted) religious faith getting in the way. But there’s a reason why Beshear has been refusing to issue the executive order that Bevin is so eager to sign: It completely undermines the concept of public officials being prohibited from exercising their faith in a public capacity.

Kim Davis, screenshot via YouTube

Kim Davis, screenshot via YouTube

In effect, Kim Davis has won the biggest victory she could have hoped to win. While it would have been impossible for her to continue to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples (or all couples, for that matter), she has effectively used her religion and her capacity as a public official to change government policy in a manner in which she approves. Kim Davis made no bones about the fact that she was an activist. Her activism is now being rewarded.

To be clear, it’s being rewarded indirectly. Matt Bevin stumbled into a highly-improbable win in the Kentucky gubernatorial race, and Kim Davis wasn’t the reason why he won (he lost her county). But her activism has made public accommodation of religious beliefs that need not be accommodated, and are in fact antithetical to the very concept of a public sphere in secular liberal democracy, a priority for this Republican administration. And likely many others.

Activists set the agenda, and elections have consequences.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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22 Responses to “Kentucky Governor-elect Bevin will bail Kim Davis out on day one”

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  2. Astraport says:


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  4. The_Fixer says:

    If this comes to pass, I wonder if the whole situation won’t go away?

    Nah, there’s too much money involved in this. Expect another fake persecution talking point to emerge that will put her back in the limelight. It’s too lucrative for her and others (like her lawyers at that shady organization that is fighting on her behalf).

    Yeah, you can call me cynical, it really doesn’t bother me.

  5. Houndentenor says:

    As long as they are issuing the licenses (not sending people to another county but issuing them as themselves) I don’t really care. Yes, it’s stupid and I agree that she should have quit rather than dragging this out, but who else is going to pay her $80k to basically be a clerk?

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  7. Nicholas A Kocal says:

    Since Kentucky receives more in federal tax money than it pays in and my state pays in more then it gets back, I do help pay for this bigots salary.

  8. Indigo says:

    Exactly how President Trump will work. Stay turned.

  9. BeccaM says:

    Bevin’s proposed order is contrary to Kentucky state law, which specifies in great detail what must appear on both marriage licenses and certificates of registration.

    He is acting absent legislation or a lawful court order.

  10. Buford says:

    Eh… the clerk’s office surely does other things besides issuing marriage licenses, and there’s a staff of folks in that office… so excusing Davis herself from issuing these specific licenses can be considered ‘reasonable accommodation’.

    Sure, the situation is horseshit… but the real winner here was equality, not Davis. Her place in history is secured, and it ain’t pretty.

  11. TheOriginalLiz says:

    I don’t believe Kimmy has ever been about religious beliefs. She’s in it for the fame and for the money. Just another “christian” hypocrite.

  12. Don Chandler says:

    It was a really smart move for Planned Parenthood to stop taking money for fetal tissue. Politically smart and financially smart–very good and important organization that is always being attacked by religious kooks. Maybe Kim Davis will be the other side of the coin and make herself even less liked in the rest of the country.

  13. mf_roe says:

    Totally agree. Many religious folks are troubled about religions beliefs being used as tools for the narrow views of zealots. Think abortion, many religious folks stand in the 70% that understand why it should be an option, they condemn clinic bombers as strongly as all rational people do.

  14. Don Chandler says:

    You know, Kentucky might be using her locally, but we use her nationally. She is very unpopular nationally. I like to think she sunk Huckabee. In the general, she might be used to sink Cruz. Small price to pay.

  15. nicho says:

    I meant “we” in a very broad sense

  16. Don Chandler says:

    Well, ‘we’ don’t pay kim, Kentucky does. It was once an important position. Nowadays its a functionary that sometimes gets elected:

    In California and New York, it is discretionary whether counties electtheir clerks or appoint them. Of the remaining states, the role either is an appointed position, or does not exist.—national association of counties NACO

  17. nicho says:

    So then why do we even need her? Just hire a bunch of functionaries to issue licenses and follow the law or be fired. We don’t need to pay someone $80,000 to sit on her flabby and apparently shopworn ass and praise Jesus all day without doing what she’s allegedly paid to do.

  18. mf_roe says:

    Works for Baggers.

  19. Hue-Man says:

    …getting paid by taxpayers NOT to do their jobs!

  20. Indigo says:

    With this round of elections, it’s now clearly established that a (conservative) official can make up stuff and call it law. Just wait ’til the Donald is presidillident.

  21. Buford says:

    Eh… I don’t think it’s as big a win as some are suggesting. She still has to sit and stew while the office she ‘runs’ issues marriage licenses which make her blood boil, all the while knowing that she’s incapable of stopping it from happening

    This is effectively the same as the Hood County, Texas, case. Their idiot Country Clerk… Katy Lang… refused to issue same-sex licenses and was sued in Federal Court for her nonsense. The end result was that her office must issue the licenses even though she can recuse herself from doing so… and the county had to pay the $44K court costs of the couple who sued them.

  22. SkippyFlipjack says:

    On the one hand, I can see why this makes some sense. Marriage licenses are civic things. My car registration doesn’t need to have the name of the clerk in charge of my local DMV on it, so why does Davis’s name need to be on hers.

    On the flip side of course it’s crazy and infuriating. One, because it’s a cave to a radical jerk and bigot who won’t do her job. Even more, because it gives credence to the ridiculous idea that “freedom of religion” extends to not letting people think you even slightly approve something that you decide your religion is against. Davis’s complaint was that even if she’s on vacation while a marriage license is issued to a same-sex couple, the fact that the form notes that she’s nominally in charge of that office would signify to people that she (horror of horrors!) didn’t hate that a gay couple was able to get married, and that would be an infringement of her religious freedom. What an offensive idea, and Bevin is a prick for accepting the argument.

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