Prof. Epps on Kentucky county clerk: Find another job

Saying she was acting “under God’s authority,” Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples on Tuesday, hours after the Supreme Court refused to back her position.

The brouhaha at the Rowan County Courthouse, which reached a fever pitch on Tuesday as same-sex couples demanded Davis issue marriage licenses, has been building for months, ever since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in June — and Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses to all couples, saying that in so doing she would protect her religious beliefs against gay marriage without discriminating against anyone.

“It is not a light issue for me,” Davis said, according to The New York Times. “It is a Heaven or Hell decision.”

Professor Garrett Epps discussed the case in an Aug. 16 Atlantic column, “When Public Servants Refuse to Serve the Public.”

“Government in particular has an obligation to dismiss any employee who claims a right to discriminate against citizens,” Epps wrote. “It’s not good enough to say, ‘Go to another county if you want a license.’ It’s not good enough to say, ‘I won’t let anyone get married.’ Those aren’t a clerk’s decisions to make.”

Concluded Epps: “Kim Davis needs to find another job.”

On Tuesday afternoon, a federal judge in Ashland, Ky., ordered Davis and her staff to appear Thursday to explain why Davis should not be held in contempt of court. Two motions for contempt were filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Kentucky and cooperating attorneys.

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