Politics

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis will be back in federal court  this morning in Ashland. For the past several days, she has defied a federal judge’s order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying her religious views prevent her from signing off on them.

An appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court have declined to interject on her behalf. So today’s hearing will determine whether Davis is in contempt of U.S. District Judge David Bunning’s order last month to resume issuing marriage licenses. She could be fined or even put in jail.

This week, Davis spent much of her days with her office door shut and the blinds down, avoiding people and the media spotlight.

Under normal circumstances, Davis’ is responsible for mundane tasks — vehicle registration renewals, running elections — for a county of fewer than 24,000 residents. But this summer, she’s found herself at the center of a national controversy.

So who is Kim Davis?

The 49-year-old Democrat was first elected to this post in November. She replaced her mother, Jean Bailey, who served as county clerk for 37 years.

Davis hasn’t issued marriage licenses to anyone since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in June. Since then, protesters and couples who want to get married in their home county have hounded her.

Flavis McKinney, a retired sawmill worker, said he’s known Davis for nearly 30 years and thinks she’s doing a great job.

“I have no complaint, and I don’t think too many other people has. Everything was going smooth until this gay marriage thing come in,” McKinney said.

McKinney said he prays with Davis in her office every few days. He’s one of many religious supporters celebrating her stand. They applaud Davis’ evangelical conviction to uphold her beliefs despite repeated rulings from federal courts that her personal views can’t get in the way of her official duties.

McKinney said the legalization of same-sex marriage is a sign of the “end times.”

“She told me before she was elected. It’s passing in other states and stuff, she said I can’t do it if she was elected to office. If it come to Kentucky, she said I just can’t do it, being the will of God,” McKinney said.

When the Supreme Court refused to hear her grievances, Davis doubled down on her position, releasing a statement that said she never imagined she would be asked to violate a central teaching of scripture regarding marriage.

Her critics point out despite her moral posturing, she’s violated principles of her own religion, Apostolic Christianity, by getting divorced three times.

Robbie Blankenship and Jesse Cruz tried to get a marriage license yesterday, but were denied.

“She’s been married four times … three divorces … three divorces! We’ve been together 20 years, but our love is not equal to yours,” Blankenship said

Davis was first married in 1984, and then in 1996, 2007, and 2009. The second and last of those marriages were to the same man — her present husband, Joe Davis.

Jack Carpenter lives next to a house the Davises rent out to a member of their church. He said he was disgusted when Davis’ personal life was used against her.

“Where they’re bringing how many times she’d been married into it and stuff now — you know, what’s that got to do with anything? You know? I mean, I don’t know. It’s just crazy, you know, here we are this little small town and we’re on national news,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter said Davis is a “super, super nice lady.” Even though he doesn’t agree with her views, he feels sorry for her.

“It’s actually what she believes. She’s not doing it for publicity or any crazy stuff, that’s what’s in her heart,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter said he can’t imagine Davis backing down. And she’s given no sign that she will.

Late Wednesday, Davis and her attorneys made a last-ditch attempt to have the contempt hearing delayed. No word yet from Judge Bunning.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.