Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis returned to work today. Davis, a culture war household name by now, famously refused to issue any marriage licenses in the county due to her opposition to the recent Supreme Court decision forcing states to recognize same-sex couples. Furthermore, she forbid her assistant clerks from issuing licenses in her stead. Because she was an elected official, the state couldn't simply just fire her, and she ended up in jail for a few days for contempt of court. While she was in jail, her deputies agreed to start issuing licenses again.
So everybody was wondering what Davis would do once she returned to her office. Technically those deputies work for her, and she could order them to again stop handing out licenses. She has decided that she won't do that. She won't hand out licenses herself, though, and she told the media this morning that the licenses issued by her deputies would not bear her name and would instead state that they were handed out under the orders of U.S. District Judge David Bunning, the judge who had found her in contempt. Read more and watch her press comments here at Reuters.
She said she has doubts those licenses are actually legal. Perhaps that's something that could be fixed retroactively (if it's true) when Kentucky's legislature returns to session and addresses the situation.
Davis wants something like the law that was passed in North Carolina allowing officials to legally opt out of dealing with marriage licenses if they have religious objections. The additional problem, though, is that Davis, again, is an elected official who has to put her name on the licenses handed out within her county, so they may have to alter the licensing rules entirely if Kentucky decides it wants to accommodate her.
And as far as North Carolina's new law is working out, one county has hit a snag. North Carolina's law allows those responsible from handing out marriage licenses from opting out if they have religious objections. But those officials have to opt out of handing out all marriage licenses entirely for several months, and the county is then obligated to make sure somebody is available to do the work.
At the time, while some worried this would create unnecessary delays to couples trying to get married, I wondered if this would ultimately end up costing taxpayers. Sure enough, all the magistrates in McDowell County have recused themselves and will not perform any marriages at all. So the county has had to essentially "import" willing magistrates from nearby counties (and presumably pay them) to drive over to handle marriage licenses 10 hours per week, as the law mandates.