There are many people in this country who still do not accept the Supreme Court’s June ruling legalizing same sex marriage nationwide. None of these opponents have been in the news more than Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk of Court, Kim Davis. Despite the clear Supreme Court ruling, Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples claiming she has a “sincere religious objection.” ACLU wants Kim Davis in contempt of court, by Ariane de Vogue and Jeremy Diamond, cnn.com, September 2, 2015. In fact, Davis is so opposed to same sex marriage that she forbid her deputy clerks from issuing the licenses, since they bear her name as clerk of court. She even filed an emergency action with the Supreme Court, which they denied and ordered her to begin issuing licenses. When she still refused, the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) filed a motion to hold Davis in contempt, which was ultimately granted and resulted in Davis’s incarceration.
Davis spent 5 days in jail and was released under an order requiring her not to interfere with her deputies issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. It appears that she is begrudgingly complying with the order, though the licenses have been modified so she does not have to sign them. Kim Davis stands ground, but couple get license, by Mariano Castillo and Kevin Conlon, cnn.com, September 14, 2015. It is unclear whether modified these marriage licenses will ultimately be held to be valid.
Kim Davis’ refusal to issue marriage licenses has been the only actual challenge to the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same sex marriage. Even those who are strongly opposed to the decision appear, at least, to have accepted it as valid law. The difference with Davis is that her job requires her to issue marriage licenses with which she disagrees, while others may just have an issue with same sex marriage in the abstract, even though it does not affect their lives. Though we may see more challenges in the future, it is clear that the United States Supreme Court as well as state courts will not accept a person’s refusal to comply with the ruling.