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Why hasn’t the Kentucky clerk been fired?

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis.Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis is refusing to issue marriage licenses after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of nationwide gay marriage earlier this summer. As a public official in charge of record keeping, her refusal to issue licenses to all eligible applicants is a violation of Kentucky state law, and to many ordinary workers would be grounds for termination. Federal courts have rejected her argument that she should be excused from issuing the licenses because of her faith. So why hasn't she been fired?

Davis is an elected official and can't be "fired" in the traditional sense of the word. She does not have a boss and can only be removed from office if she is impeached by the Kentucky legislature or charged with misconduct by the state's attorney general. The conservative political climate in Kentucky makes both of these options unlikely. In addition, Kentucky does not allow recall elections, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.


Gay couples and their advocates are instead turning to the courts.

Same-sex couples have asked a federal court to hold Davis in contempt and fine her over her refusal to issue the licenses. A judge could also incarcerate her, but the couples have requested that she not go to jail. A hearing on the motion is set for Thursday.

Davis maintains that issuing marriage licenses to gay couples would violate her conscience.

"I have no animosity toward anyone and harbor no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God's word," Davis said in a statement indicating that she would not resign.


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Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.