Rowan County, Ky. Clerk Kim Davis

UPDATE: NPR and other news sources are reporting tonight that the U.S. Supreme Court has denied Kim Davis’ appeal to stay a lower court ruling ordering her to begin issuing marriage licenses, including marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Davis is county clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky.

Davis, who has been married four times, has refused to issue any marriage licenses to avoid having to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples since, she claims, same-sex marriage goes against her personal religious beliefs.

Davis, an elected official, has also refused to allow anyone else in her office to issues marriage licenses.


Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis filed an emergency petition with the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday afternoon to have a justice review her appeal to allow her to continue not doing her job — i.e. refusing to issue marriage licenses to anybody to avoid having to issue licenses to same-sex couples — on religious grounds, according to WKYT, the CBS affiliate in Lexington, Ky.

She asked a U.S. District Court judge who ruled against her, but stayed his decision, to extend his stay. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals denied her request for a stay and the district court denied her extension.

On the federal level, Justice Elena Kagan is the circuit justice for the Sixth Circuit and would receive Davis’ request for a stay. Kagan voted on the side of same-sex marriage in the Windsor and Obergefell decisions.

Also on Friday, Rowan County’s attorney referred a charge of official misconduct against Davis to the state Attorney General. Only the state can remove Davis from office.

Davis has refused to issue any marriage licenses and refused to allow anyone in her office to issue any licenses because of her religious objection to same-sex marriage. Her religious beliefs clearly don’t extend to divorce, because Davis is on her fourth husband.

A small rally in support of same-sex marriage was held at the Rowan County courthouse on Friday and a larger group gathered on Saturday. A group supporting Davis also appeared.

As for Davis’ claims of religious freedom, a 2006 case, Garcetti v Ceballo, limited free speech protections for government employees when they are on the job. Employers must make some accommodations for religious beliefs, but employees must still do the core, central duties of their jobs. In the opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that a public official is only protected only when engaged in an issue as a private citizen, not if it is expressed as part of the official’s public duties.