Metro Weekly

LDS leader criticizes “soldier for Christ” Kim Davis’ actions

Mormon leader says Davis should issue marriage licenses, as emails emerge showing her intent to defy court's orders

Kim Davis, Credit: Fox News
Kim Davis, Credit: Fox News

A prominent apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) is criticizing the actions of Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis for attempting to justify her actions denying same-sex couples marriage licenses by citing her personal religious beliefs.

According to the New York Times, Dallin Oaks, a high-ranking and prominent figure within the Mormon religion, said that public officials, like Davis, have a duty to follow the law despite their religious objections to same-sex marriage. Nothing has changed vis-a-vis LDS teachings on homosexuality or same-sex marriage, but Oaks is now speaking out against Davis, who has become a mini-celebrity among conservative circles for at first refusing to issue marriage licenses, and now, for refusing to issue marriage licenses that bear the name of the county or any reference to her or her office. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has argued that Davis’ latest actions create a two-tiered system of marriage licenses in Rowan County, one for straight couples and another for same-sex couples.

“Office holders remain free to draw upon their personal beliefs and motivations and advocate their positions in the public square,” Oaks said. “But when acting as public officials, they are not free to apply personal convictions — religious or other — in place of the defined responsibilities of their public offices. All government officers should exercise their civil authority according to the principles and within the limits of civil government.

“A county clerk’s recent invoking of religious reasons to justify refusal by her office and staff to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples violates this principle,” Oaks added.

Oaks’ admonishment of Davis’ actions comes as the controversial clerk is once again under the spotlight, this time for emails obtained by the Associated Press that shine a light on Davis’ state of mind prior to her imprisonment for five days in response to defying a federal judge’s order to allow members of her staff to issue licenses to all qualified couples, including those of the same gender. In one of the emails, Davis described herself as a “soldier for Christ.”

In another email, Davis wrote to a supporter on the day that the ACLU filed a lawsuit against her, writing, “The battle has just begun.” Other emails seem to indicate that Davis intended all along to flout the court’s orders from the moment that the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality nationwide.

“It has truly been a firestorm here and the days are pretty much a blur, but I am confident that God is in control of all of this!” she wrote in the email, dated July 2. “I desire your prayers, I will need strength that only God can supply and I need a backbone like a saw log!!”

Other emails show Davis turning away people, both straight and gay, who sought to obtain marriage licenses from her office. Yet despite complaining of protesters who lined up outside her office, Davis told another supporter, Willie Ramsey, in an email that she would remain firm in her stance opposing same-sex marriage. 

“They are going to try and make a whipping post out of me!!” she wrote. “I know it, but God is still alive and on the throne!!! He IS in control and knows exactly where I am!!”

Davis later wrote to Ramsey again about what she would do as the deadline of Aug. 31 — when U.S. District Judge David Bunning had ordered her to begin issuing marriage licenses — approached, telling Ramsey: “September 1 will be the day to prepare for, if the Lord doesn’t return before then. I have weighed the cost, and will stay the course.”

Ramsey wrote back, saying he’d be willing to block the courthouse door if the judge tried to have her arrested. Davis responded, “I’m sure it will be a mad house!!” but added, “God will still be in control!”

Rev. Rodney McKenzie, National LGBTQ Task Force Director of the Academy for Leadership and Action, responded to Oaks’ criticism of Davis, saying he was “pleased to hear that a senior leader in the Mormon Church believes that using faith as an excuse to ignore the law and discriminate is wrong.”

“This is another positive development in shifting the phony narrative that people of faith aren’t supportive of LGBTQ people and that LGBTQ people aren’t people of faith,” McKenzie added.

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