Somehow she’s welcomed back by a crowd of thousands
by Declan Murphy
Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis returned to work this past Monday, September 14, after being briefly held in jail for contempt of court. Davis gained notoriety after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples following the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which affirmed a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry.
Davis’s objection was based on religious grounds. As a devout Christian, Davis believed that being forced to issue marriage licenses violates her freedom of religion. The facts, however, indicate otherwise. The Constitution does allow for certain religious exemptions, such as conscientious objectors to the draft. However, as a civil servant, Davis also has an obligation to fulfill her duties to the best of her ability. When these directives conflict, it is typically up to the discretion of the courts to determine which obligation takes priority. Davis’s imprisonment, as well as multiple refusals to accept appeals for her case, demonstrates that her claim has no legal basis.
None of this is surprising, given conservative backlash to the ruling. What is surprising, however, is the general response to Davis’s stand against gay marriage. The remaining clerks in Rowan County have been issuing same-sex marriage licenses while Davis was in jail. Mere days after Davis’s return, nonprofit group Planting Peace paid for a billboard in Rowan County comparing Davis’s views to antiquated Biblical notions of selling women into marriage for property. Additionally, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 63% of Americans do believe that Davis should be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Davis is not without her supporters, though, as 33% of those surveyed still believe she has the right to not issue these licenses. In her hometown, too, Davis managed to attract a crowd of more than a thousand supporters, cheering upon her release from jail.
The battle is far from over. Davis’s legal team has continued to press for appeals, the latest of which was denied September 17. Worse still, however, are those who are rallying around Davis. In Alabama, a judge named Nick Williams has filed a petition which would exempt him from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. In North Carolina, a fringe candidate for a local mayoral race expressed his support of Kim Davis, and his hatred for LGBT individuals.
“We should jail them; we should throw them all in jail!” Holmes told local paper the King Mountain Herald, apparently as ignorant on how the legal system works as he is on human sexuality. 
But it’s not just the nutcases that view Davis as some sort of conservative heroin. Perennial presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee—a man so popular, he failed to even clinch his own party’s nomination in 2008—has been vocal in his support of Davis, even appearing in the crowd celebrating her release. He’s further commented that he believes Davis should have a ‘religious exemption’ from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In related news, Huckabee is currently polling at 4.5% for the 2016 GOP nomination, proving that even in the Age of Trump you can’t win by bigotry alone.
Davis has already (thankfully) begun to fade from public consciousness. With the tide of public opinion turning toward acceptance of same-sex marriage, fringe extremists like Davis and Holmes now occupy the minority. Change, however slowly, is coming.