Religious Liberty: Some Unsolicited Career Advice for Kim Davis

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By Thomas L. Knapp

One of the jobs of the County Clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky is to issue marriage licenses to couples who meet the legal standards for such licenses. Recently, those standards changed, and now same-sex couples can license their marriages.

That new standard conflicts with Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’s religious belief that marriage is only valid between one man and one woman. No problem. There’s a simple way to handle that situation. If she isn’t willing to do the job, she should quit the job.

Instead, Davis asserts that her religious belief entitles her to continue holding the title, and continue collecting her $80,000 annual salary from Rowan County’s taxpayers, without doing the job.

She stopped issuing (and allowing her deputy clerks to issue) marriage licenses two months ago after the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. Not just to same-sex couples, but to everyone.

As of this writing, she continues to refuse to issue marriage licenses even after multiple courts have ordered her to do so and after the US Supreme Court has denied her appeals of those orders.

In a statement issued through Liberty Counsel, the Christian organization representing her in those appeals, Davis states that “some people have said I should resign, but I have done my job well. … It is a matter of religious liberty …. I intend to continue to serve the people of Rowan County, but I cannot violate my conscience.”

Not doing one’s job at all is not doing it “well.” Refusing to serve the people of Rowan County is not “serving the people of Rowan County.”

Religious liberty is an important thing. Important enough, I think, that we shouldn’t willfully twist its meaning.

No, religious liberty does not entitle Kim Davis to a continuing government position with a very nice paycheck for declining to do the job she was elected to do and promised to do.

Kim Davis is not a martyr for religious freedom. She’s a layabout, a no-show, collecting a paycheck for work she refuses to do. Martyrs make decisions on principle and accept the consequences of those decisions.

If the requirements of the job have become, as Davis calls them, a “Heaven or Hell decision,” then she should make that decision and act accordingly. She should resign her position as Rowan County clerk and go seek other employment — employment which doesn’t conflict with her religious beliefs.

Kim Davis County Clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky



Thomas Knapp

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Thomas Knapp

Citizen Reporter,

Thanks for commenting!

You write:

“Activists are going out of their way to target people like her. If you’re truly a Libertarian, you should have said that too.”

If you have followed my columns here at the Citizens Journal, you’ll see that I have defended the rights of e.g. bakers not to bake cakes for gay weddings, etc., as well, and called, like you, for getting government entirely out of the business of “licensing marriage.”

“I’m sure there are other people who could have handled it.”

There were. She had deputy clerks. As their boss, she ordered them not to issue marriage licenses. She wasn’t standing up for her own religious freedom, she was trying to impose her religious beliefs on everyone else using a position of government power.

As far as “walking the walk” goes, I guess so, if by “walking the walk” you mean collecting an $80k per year salary while refusing to do her job or to let anyone else do her job.

Citizen Reporter

You could accuse Kim Davis of many things, but being a layabout ain’t one of them. She is walking the talk and taking on way more than some guy safely hiding behind an editorial piece.

By the way, the vast majority of her work is not issuing licenses for a few sham “marriages” which buck most major religions and thousands of years of human experience. It is no coincidences that most societies have eschewed it.

While I personally don’t think that government should be involved in marriage at all, someone who feels that strongly should be given at least some concessions. I’m sure there are other people who could have handled it. Activists are going out of their way to target people like her. If you’re truly a Libertarian, you should have said that too.

I also blame government for equating sodomite relationships with the institution of marriage, which is a very different thing. Think: they could have pushed for “domestic partnerships” and stayed clear of sullying marriage, but they didn’t. This makes me think their real agenda is not protecting their rights, but rather trampling on others’ rights, if not to harass and marginalize religious people of conscience. Or maybe it’s even more radical: to dismantle the very pillars of society, which the nuclear family is a key building block of.

I suppose society will have to learn its lesson the hard way.