Huckabee, Cruz react to Kentucky clerk’s jailing

Kim Davis

By Bob Eschliman


Rowan County (KY) Clerk Kim Davis, a devout Christian, was sent to jail Thursday morning after she continued to refuse to issue marriage licenses to those who wished to participate in homosexual “marriages.” The federal judge who sent her to jail said he had “no other choice” because she also refused to allow her deputies to issue the licenses in her stead.

Topic A LogoIn Kentucky, county clerks originally began as county clerks of court like those found at courthouses around Iowa. Over time, the position evolved into a position similar to the duties of Iowa’s county auditors, treasurers, and assessors, while also remaining the custodian of court documents. The County Clerk is an elected position, accountable to the people of county he or she serves, with a four-year term.

Under the Kentucky Constitution, a county clerk may only be removed from office if he or she has first been impeached by the Kentucky General Assembly. A recent document prepared by the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission that outlines the required duties for all elected county officials in the state makes no mention of issuing marriage licenses as a required duty.

The foreword of the document, attributed to LRC acting director Marcia Ford Seiler, states:

“The past several years have been a time of significant change in county government in the United States, and Kentucky has been no exception. Counties across the country have been experiencing continued growth in population as well as an increasing demand for services, including some that counties have not traditionally supplied. The 1975 Judicial Amendment to the Constitution of Kentucky removed all judicial responsibilities from county government and its officers. A 1977 ruling of the Kentucky Supreme Court on the County Home Rule Act and the General Assembly’s subsequent amendment of that statute granted counties increased flexibility in handling their affairs and determining the services they would provide their citizens.”

Davis did not just withhold marriage licenses from gays and lesbians, she stopped issuing marriage licenses from her office altogether, which is allowed under Kentucky law. She did so because of her convictions as a born-again Christian told her she could not be a party to what she said was an act of utter defiance to God.

In counties where marriage licenses are issued, the County Clerk’s name appears on the license. Two other county clerks have made the same objection, but were not targeted by LGBTQ activists for legal action. The Kentucky General Assembly is expected to take action when it reconvenes — in January — but convening a special session to address the issue would be costly to taxpayers of the state.

U.S. Judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky David L. Bunning, the son of former U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) and a 2001 appointee of President George W. Bush, insisted the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Obergefell decision left him no option but to force the Rowan County Clerk’s Office to issue marriage licenses. He also was part of an appeals court panel that struck down a partial-birth abortion ban, and issued an opinion that a school district must host a gay-straight alliance club.

When she refused to issue marriage licenses on Thursday, Bunning sent Davis to jail for contempt of court. After some of her deputies — her son, who is also a deputy, continues to refuse, as well — offered to issue marriage licenses in her stead, Bunning offered to release Davis if she would allow it. She would not.

The unprecedented decision to jail a Christian for his or her beliefs caused immediate reactions from two of the Republican presidential candidates who have made religious liberty a centerpiece of their campaigns. Within minutes of the announcement, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee issued the following statement:

“Having Kim Davis in federal custody removes all doubt of the criminalization of Christianity in our country.  We must defend religious liberty and never surrender to judicial tyranny. Five, unelected Supreme Court lawyers did not and cannot make law. They can only make rulings. The Supreme Court is not the Supreme branch and it’s certainly not the Supreme Being.

“I am proud of Kim for standing strong for her beliefs. Who will be next? Pastors? Photographers? Caterers? Florists? This is a reckless, appalling, out-of-control decision that undermines the Constitution of the United States and our fundamental right to religious liberty.”

Huckabee then announced he will hold a “I’m With Kim” religious liberty rally Tuesday, where he will be joined by Mat Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel, which is representing Davis in federal court. He also sent out a campaign email to his supporters that included a link to an online petition (CLICK HERE to sign the petition) calling upon President Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and Judge Bunning to immediately release Davis from custody.

“We must defend religious liberty and never surrender to judicial tyranny,” Huckabee said later. “What a world, where Hillary Clinton isn’t in jail but Kim Davis is.”

Within seconds of Huckabee’s initial statement, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) weighed in on the situation with the following statement:

“Today, judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny. Today, for the first time ever, the government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith. This is wrong. This is not America.

“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.

“In dissent, Chief Justice Roberts rightly observed that the Court’s marriage opinion has nothing to do with the Constitution. Justice Scalia observed that the Court’s opinion was so contrary to law that state and local officials would choose to defy it.

“For every politician — Democrat and Republican — who is tut-tutting that Davis must resign, they are defending a hypocritical standard. Where is the call for the mayor of San Francisco to resign for creating a sanctuary city — resulting in the murder of American citizens by criminal illegal aliens welcomed by his lawlessness?

“Where is the call for President Obama to resign for ignoring and defying our immigration laws, our welfare reform laws, and even his own Obamacare?

“When the mayor of San Francisco and President Obama resign, then we can talk about Kim Davis.

“Those who are persecuting Kim Davis believe that Christians should not serve in public office. That is the consequence of their position. Or, if Christians do serve in public office, they must disregard their religious faith–or be sent to jail.

“Kim Davis should not be in jail. We are a country founded on Judeo-Christian values, founded by those fleeing religious oppression and seeking a land where we could worship God and live according to our faith, without being imprisoned for doing so.

“I call upon every Believer, every Constitutionalist, every lover of liberty to stand with Kim Davis. Stop the persecution now.”