Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2015 based on her Christian beliefs, may now face damages after an appeals court ruled today that a lawsuit filed by one of the gay couples she spurned could move forward.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit sided with David Ermold and David Moore, saying they could sue her for depriving them of their “fundamental right to marry.” The appeals panel reversed a lower court’s ruling dismissing the case.
In a win for separation of church and state, Circuit Judge Nelson Moore said a ruling in another case (Miller v. Davis) didn’t prevent this case from continuing.
Whether Ermold and Moore will prevail on the merits is not a question currently before us. We hold today that our July 13, 2016 order instructing the district court to vacate its preliminary injunction in Miller did not render this damages-only action moot. Therefore, we REVERSE the district court’s judgment and REMAND for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
To be clear: the court didn’t rule that Davis owes Ermold and Moore anything. Not yet. The court ruled that the men have a right to bring their lawsuit against her, and that their argument ought to be evaluated by the court.
Davis has maintained, ever since she began refusing to do her job, that no one was harmed by her faith-based discrimination because they could have just gone to another clerk. But my question is, “What happens when the other clerk says no?” We can’t allow people in government positions to discriminate based on their personal faith. Kim Davis wanted that job. That means she has an obligation to do it properly instead of picking and choosing which laws to follow based on her interpretation of the Bible. That’s a slippery slope no one wants to go down.
That’s not the world I want to live in, or the secular country our Founding Fathers envisioned. It’s a nation in which personal beliefs triumph over civil liberties. Kim Davis hasn’t lost anything yet, but with today’s ruling, a major hurdle has been overcome.
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