Kentucky voters remain split on whether Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis should stay in office, while national voters have largely soured on the conservative darling.
According to a story from The Courier-Journal published in USA Today, the latest Bluegrass Poll, which was released Thursday, 47 percent of registered voters in Kentucky say Davis should remain in office while 46 percent say the county clerk should be removed from office. But perhaps Davis should take comfort: a Bluegrass Poll from a month ago showed that more than half of all voters believed that Davis should be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, while 42 percent said they want her to be able to refuse.
In the most recent poll, 31 percent of Kentucky voters believe the state should create an online system for marriage licenses, which would remove county clerks from the licensing process entirely. Another 29 percent say county clerks should be allowed to remove their names from official forms, as Davis has done since being released from jail. Only 34 percent say the current system, where clerks must issue licenses to all couples, should be left in place.
But Davis is not doing so well among the wider American public. In a recent Associated Press-GfK poll, 56 percent of Americans think clerks like Davis should be required to issue licenses to all qualified couples, while only 41 percent favor an exemption. That’s a shift against Davis from July, when a similar survey showed 49 percent of Americans favored an exemption for clerks, while 47 percent did not.
According to the AP, the biggest shift from the summer has come among Republicans, whose support for religious exemptions has dropped 14 percent — though it remains a majority among GOP voters.
Davis and her lawyers from the right-wing conservative legal organization Liberty Counsel have argued that Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) should call a special session of the legislature to provide legal exemptions for clerks who object to same-sex marriage, or to create an online database that would take licensing out of clerks’ hands completely. Beshear has refused to do so, citing the cost of having a special session, which has handed Republicans a wedge issue with which to hit Democrats in next week’s elections for statewide office and the legislature.
But Chris Hartman, the director of the Fairness Campaign, the state’s top pro-LGBT organization, told The Courier-Journal that a change to the law is unnecessary. According to Hartman, an online system would encounter issues verifying people’s identities, and allowing clerks to remove their names would open the door to a greater number of requests for exemptions.
“There is no need to make changes, and the state legislature doesn’t need to waste taxpayer dollars and time debating a system that is not broken,” Hartman said.
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