I was glued to my smartphone Tuesday night, my stomach doing flip-flops, when a tweet caught my eye: Kim Davis had lost her re-election bid in Kentucky!
Always the skeptic, I had to make sure this wasn’t “fake news,” so I hit Google. Sure enough, it was true. Davis, a Republican Rowan County clerk who became a darling of the Religious Right and a symbol of intolerance for the rest of us after she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was out. Democrat Elwood Caudill Jr. defeated her by about 700 votes.
At that point, I wasn’t sure how the rest of the night was going to shake out politically, but I knew that no matter what happened, Davis losing her taxpayer-funded position would be a bright spot.
For those of you who may have forgotten about this sordid little saga, let me remind you what Davis did. After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld marriage equality in June 2015, Davis publicly announced that her fundamentalist religious beliefs precluded her from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and therefore they wouldn’t be getting them. They shouldn’t even bother to ask her because the answer would be no.
Understand, Davis didn’t just say that she’d pass the task onto someone else. Davis ordered everyone in her taxpayer-funded, government office to refuse to extend to LGBTQ people a service they had a legal right to receive. She treated an entire class of people like untouchables, like lesser beings, like second-class citizens. Later, she dictatorially decided that rather than issue licenses to same-sex couples, she’d stop giving them to all couples. She simply jettisoned that part of her job (while happily accepting her entire pay, of course).
And for this, she was lauded as a hero by the Religious Right.
Davis’ defiance of the law landed her briefly in jail during the summer of 2015. When she was released, Mike Huckabee and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), both of whom were running for president at the time, nearly tripped over themselves to get near Davis and praise her as kind of martyr.
Davis was never a martyr, never a hero. She’s simply a person who decided to wield her narrow and dogmatic views as a weapon to lash out at others and discriminate against them. Had she been unable to fulfill the duties of her government job, the right thing for her to do was to resign. Davis didn’t want to do that. She wanted all of the perks of a taxpayer-funded position without actually fulfilling its obligations.
Government’s first duty is to treat all of the people equally. Davis wasn’t willing to do that, which means she failed a crucial test for civil servants. Even the people of rural Rowan County (population: 22,300) could see that and sent her packing. (The fact that her antics stuck the taxpayers with a bill for nearly a quarter of a million dollars may have played a role.)
I have no idea what Davis will do next, although I suspect that she’ll end up like Roy Moore, a sad figure lurking on the fringes of the Religious Right’s rubber chicken circuit peddling a tale of woe that gets moldier by the year. (Maybe they’ll take her to more foreign countries where she’ll unsuccessfully spread hate.)
No matter what Davis ends up doing, the good people of Rowan County won’t be footing the bill for it. Good riddance!
(Photo: Kim Davis with Mike Huckabee and Mathew Staver. Screenshot via CNN.)