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The gay Kentucky man who was denied a marriage license by Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis will be running against her in 2018.
David Ermold, 44, an assistant professor of English and developmental studies at the University of Pikeville, has announced he will seek the Democratic nomination for Rowan County Clerk.
If he wins the nomination, he will face off against Davis, a former Democrat who switched to Republican after the Democratic Party started supporting marriage equality.
In 2015, Davis served five days in jail for contempt of court stemming after she refused to issue marriage licenses to any couple, arguing that — even if she did not process the license herself — allowing a generic license listing her name and title to be issued to a same-sex couple would signal an “endorsement” of same-sex marriage.
Speaking with Metro Weekly, Ermold says he never had political office on his mind when he and his partner, David Moore, first clashed with Davis in 2015.
“The conflict we had back in 2015 kind of suggested that there needed to be a change in that office, but I wasn’t really thinking about it then,” he says. “We just wanted to get a marriage license.”
But Ermold says he was angered after Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz held a rally outside the Carter County jail, where Davis was being held, that essentially glorified her for refusing to issue the licenses.
“They used our community, they used our personal pain, our personal struggle, to put forward their own political agenda,” he says.
He was also motivated to run by Davis’ Romania trip, implying that she was not focused on her responsibilities as Rowan County Clerk.
“She needs to be focusing on our people, on us, and not on whether she can split apart some other community across the world,” he says. “It’s really demonstrating a lack of leadership. It’s poor judgment.”
That said, Ermold has sympathy for Davis and does not have any hostility towards her.
“‘I think she may have gotten stuck in something that she has to follow through with no matter what. She’s aligned herself with some people who have very divisive agendas, very divisive messages,” he says. “I think anyone who’s in her position would have a hard time treading those waters.
“I do think there’s a little showmanship on her part. But at the same time, I see her as a person, as a part of our community, and she should be treated as such. She should be treated just like anyone else.”
Ermold also feels he’s qualified to be Rowan County Clerk, where, if elected, he’d like to modernize the office’s daily operations and help facilitate voter registration if elected,
“I don’t think that there’s a question at all as to whether I’d be qualified. I’ve spent my entire life in education, working with people, working with the public,” he says.
Ermold doesn’t believe his sexual orientation will discourage people from voting for him, though he says Davis’ decision to align herself with divisive political figures and her fiscal irresponsibility — including saddling the state of Kentucky with more than $220,000 in legal fees to be paid to the lawyers of the couples to whom she denied licenses — should be taken into account against her.
“When it comes down to it, we are all one people. We are one community. And I think the events of 2015 divided people down [partisan] lines. I think our politicians in the state, and even our politicians in the White House, use a divide-and-conquer method of campaigning,” he said. “In the meantime, the communities are split, with neighbor arguing against neighbor, friend arguing against friend, arguing over social values. And in the meantime, the communities are suffering.
“Again, it comes down to the people that this woman has aligned herself with. And I think the people of our county are going to be able to see that very clearly come the general election.”
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