While Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who has attempted to deny marriage licenses to gay couples in her county and has been very upfront about her desire to use her public office to impose her religious beliefs on others, her lawyers at the Religious Right group Liberty Counsel have attempted to reframe her case as one about religious liberty, claiming that the clerk is merely seeking a personal exemption from putting her name on licenses.
Some in the Religious Right, it turns out, are unhappy with Liberty Counsel’s strategy and are urging Davis to go on openly defying the law in order to uphold what she sees as a divine mandate to stop gay marriages.
In an interview with former Missouri Republican state legislator Cynthia Davis in September, far-right activist Matt Trewhella insisted that by relying on religious liberty “nonsense,” Liberty Counsel was suppressing Davis’ true calling to “interpose” herself against gay marriage and thus save America from God’s judgment.
“What she should be doing is simply saying: ‘This is an immoral decree by the Supreme Court. I took an oath to uphold the Constitution. It’s repugnant to the Constitution. I will not issue marriage licenses to homosexuals, I will only issue marriage licenses to heterosexuals,’” Trewhella said.
Trewhella, a militant anti-abortion activist who in the 1990s signed a statement in defense of the murder of abortion providers, has recently been promoting the concept of “interposition of the lesser magistrate,” the idea that elected officials like Kim Davis have a duty to flout rulings that they believe defy divine law.
The Kentucky clerk, Trehwella said, must openly defy the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling because “when God looks for someone to stand in the gap against the tyranny, against wickedness being promulgated within the culture through the civil authority, if someone stands in the gap and defies them, then God relents in His judgment, but if they don’t defy the higher authority and they just go along with it, God allows His righteous judgment to come upon the land.”
“So, for her to be hiding behind the idea of ‘religious liberty’ is an absurdity,” he continued. “She shouldn’t be just trying to keep little Kim Davis from having to have her hand in the process of this abomination, two men or two women marrying. Her duty is far bigger than that. She actually has the duty to defy the higher authority completely and interpose on behalf of righteousness and therefore abate the just judgment of God upon our nation. That’s what true interposition of the lesser magistrate entails.”
Later in the interview, Trewhella insisted that Davis is a “good woman [who] just wants to openly defy and not issue to homosexuals” but had gotten “bad advice from her attorneys” because “standing on religious liberty is utter nonsense.”
He recommended that she instead seek the legal counsel of Michael Peroutka, a Christian Reconstructionist activist and Maryland county official, who said at a rally in support of Davis that the Supreme Court’s decision “is not law” because it is “not harmonious” with the word of God.