LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, hauled to jail for defying a series of federal court orders and refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, filed a 40-page court document Thursday, blaming Kentucky governor Steve Beshear for all her legal woes.
The day the Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage in June, Beshear sent a letter to the state’s 120 county clerks directing them to issue licenses. Davis on Thursday complained that in doing so he “commandeered” county clerk’s offices and “usurped control of Kentucky marriage law.”
Davis stopped issuing licenses altogether. Four couples sued Davis, elected clerk as a Democrat, and she filed a counter-suit against Beshear, also a Democrat, alleging that his refusal to exempt religious clerks from authorizing same-sex marriage violated her right to religious freedom.
Meanwhile, Davis continued to refuse court orders and U.S. District Judge David Bunning found her in contempt earlier this month and ordered her to jail for five days, propelling her to folk hero status among some on the religious right. Davis made the rounds on television news shows this week, pledging to continue her fight against gay marriage.
Shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling, she and a handful of other clerks asked the governor to call the legislature in for a special session to find a way to accommodate religious conviction. But the governor refused. He told the clerks to either issue licenses or resign.
“The courts and the voters will deal appropriately with the rest,” the governor said.
Davis’ lawyers with the Liberty Counsel, a firm that opposes gay rights, wrote Thursday that warning was “ominous” and suggested that Beshear’s directive for clerks to abide by the Supreme Court’s decision forced Davis to defy the court and wind up in jail.
Beshear has asked a judge to dismiss the suit against him.