Anti-Gay County Clerk Kim Davis Defeated In Re-Election Bid

Kim Davis, who became infamous for defying Court orders to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, was defeated in her re-election bid.

Kim Davis, the Kentucky County Clerk who became part of a national news story three years ago when she was held in contempt of court and jailed for her refusal to comply with the orders of a Federal Court to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couple in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges,  lost her bid for re-election on Tuesday:

Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who defied the Supreme Court and was jailed in 2015 for her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, lost her re-election bid on Tuesday.

Ms. Davis, who emerged as a hero of the religious right and ran for re-election as a Republican, lost by fewer than 700 votes among nearly 7,800 cast.

Her Democratic opponent, Elwood Caudill Jr., bested her in the race for clerk of Rowan County, a rural patch of eastern Kentucky that voted for President Trump in 2016 but where Democrats typically win local office.

The race had once been billed as one of the biggest political showdowns in Kentucky because David Ermold, a gay man whose request for a marriage license Ms. Davis denied, announced he would run for her job. But then Mr. Ermold lost the Democratic primary to Mr. Caudill, chief deputy in the county property valuation office.

Mr. Caudill was a familiar local figure who represented a far less politically charged choice for a job that is mainly administrative.

Ms. Davis has held the office since January 2015, when she succeeded her mother, who had been the county clerk for 37 years. She ran as a Democrat, but quickly found herself steeped in conservative politics.

In 2015, after the Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling guaranteeing same-sex marriage rights nationwide, Ms. Davis refused to abide by the law, even after the Supreme Court rejected her request for a delay. She said same-sex marriage violated her Christian beliefs
A testy exchange with Mr. Ermold and his partner, David Moore, was caught on camera. Ms. Davis turned them away, saying that she would not issue any marriage licenses.

“Under whose authority?” Mr. Ermold asked.”
Under God’s authority,” Ms. Davis replied

She spent five nights in jail for defying the federal order and later switched parties.

Since the summer of 2015, she has appeared in statewide Republican campaign ads, met the pope, campaigned against same-sex marriage in Romania, attended a State of the Union address and published a book: “Under God’s Authority: The Kim Davis Story.”

Davis, of course, became famous, or to put it better infamous, in the summer of 2015 when she refused to issue marriage license to same-sex couples notwithstanding the fact that the Supreme Court had handed down a ruling declaring the remaining laws against same-sex marriage, specifically including Kentucky’s law since a case involving that law was at issue in one of the cases that were part of Obergefell v. Hodges. In any case, Davis was sued by several of the couples to whom she had denied licenses and ordered by a Federal Court Judge to allow her employees to issue licenses as required by the law. Davis refused to comply with the order and was eventually jailed several days for contempt of court. Eventually, she was released and a solution was found that allowed her office to issue licenses without her having to be involved. Additionally, Davis became something of a celebrity among Republicans seeking their party’s nomination during the 2016 election cycle, as well as a hero to many on the so-called “religious right.”

After the case had essentially ended, Davis became something of a star among social conservatives and began working with a group calling itself the “Alliance Defending Freedom” that continues to oppose equal rights for LGBT Americans and also spends resources around the world lobbying against marriage equality in nations where efforts are being made to change the law. Perhaps most significantly, Davis ended up having a rarely-granted private audience with Pope Francis when he visited the United States in 2015. At the time. the Catholic Church that the Pope’s meeting with her, even though she is not a Catholic, was not meant as an endorsement, however, earlier this year another official made claims that called that official explanation into question.

In any case, I suppose the voters deserve some credit for giving this woman the boot.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2018, Law and the Courts, LGBT Rights, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Karma is a bitch.

    BREAKING: Several news outlets are reporting that the Mueller report will drop in the next week or so…and that Republicans are already moving to classify it so that the American public never sees it.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    News stories tend to paint this as some random hick county in KY. The county seat, Morehead, population 6,845 (2010) is the home of Morehead State University with a student body of 10,000. There has to be a big town and gown aspect to this.

  3. Teve says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Anybody who think they can suppress the Mueller report is smoking Turbo Crack.

  4. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The GOP can classify it; who is going to stop them?
    Once it is classified Dems won’t be able to de-classify.
    Someone may leak it…but when? After Dennison is gone?

  5. Teve says:

    I could see it leaking 10 different way. For one, House Dems could subpoena Mueller and ask him what was in it, couldn’t they?

  6. Kathy says:


    Is that like ground-up Cheetos?

  7. Teve says:

    Mueller’s team is famously tight-lipped, but there are many of them, and SDNY and other jurisdictions are involved. If they’ve found serious crimes there’s too many people for a coverup to work.

  8. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    If it’s classified he couldn’t comment. At least not in public hearing.
    It doesn’t really matter, I suppose.
    We know he has obstructed justice. That’s ongoing, and Sessions is just one more piece to that puzzle.
    As for conspiracy…he was either a witting, or unwitting, participant. Which is worse? That the POTUS is in cahoots with the Russians, or that the POTUS is easily manipulated and was duped by the Russians?

  9. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Both. Trump is easy to jerk around, and what they have, he wants.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer bigot.

    After the case had essentially ended, Davis became something of a star among social conservatives

    Knock knock….
    Knock knock….
    Knock knock….
    Knock knock….
    Knock knock….
    Knock knock….
    “Hey, where is everybody? I thought you loved me.”

  11. Teve says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: IDK if even the Trump admin could get away with classifying the report. Maybe they could.

    I’m not easily shocked at this point, but if they classified it, and got away with it, I would actually be shocked.

  12. reid says:

    @Teve: Classifying it wouldn’t be difficult, since that’s the job/domain of the executive branch. In this case, I’m sure it would get leaked or the information would get out in some other way, since that would be a heinous abuse of classification.

  13. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: In principle, it may be, but like everything else Trump, the reality is going to be more like Nebraska Nohi.

  14. Kylopod says:

    How can you say she’s anti-gay when she moved the LGBT embassy from Rowan County to its rightful home in San Francisco?

  15. Joe says:


    I suspect the unseating of Ms. Davis is probably more run-of-the-mill local politics than some big payback. If the county leans Democratic (having a college helps), her biggest mistake was putting the (R) behind her name.

  16. Kathy says:

    I don’t think it’s possible to just classify the Mueller report and sweep it under the rug. Aside the fact there’d be a massive outcry, not to mention it would declare Dennison guilty by implication, doesn’t Congress’ oversight authority guarantee some senators and representatives will be able to look at it, even if it were classified?

    They may then not be able to say what’s in it, but they could talk, not leak, what kind of results are involved.

    Also, the report is one thing, and the actions stemming from the investigation are another. One major concern I have with taking supervision of Mueller off Rosenstein’s hands, is that the new guy may not allow Mueller to file indictments against, say, El Cheeto Jr. or Roger Stone.

    But we’re straying waaaaaaay off topic now.

  17. wr says:

    @Kathy: The trouble with classifying the report is that unless it includes photographic proof of Trump taking it up the ass from Putin what people will imagine is in it will be far worse than anything it could actually contain. And while releasing the report allows them to start picking it apart — “there’s a typo in the section where Donald Jr. agreed to let Putin edit all his speeches, so clearly it’s all lies — and eventually dismiss it, hiding it means a constant focus on it from every corner.

    Not that Trump isn’t dumb enough to try. But it’s really not a good idea for him.

  18. Mike in Arlington says:

    Couldn’t one of the democrats read the report into the record and be protected under the speech and debate clause? IIRC, someone did that with the Pentagon Papers.

  19. Kathy says:


    Oh, yeah. It’s like the tax returns. A lot of people want to know just what he’s hiding: massive losses, massive cheating, money laundering? You’d think the latter two would have been found in the never-ending audit he claims to be under.

    He has been stupid enough to hide his tax returns. well see about the Mueller report.

  20. Kathy says:

    El Cheeto really knows how to pick them.

    It seems Whitaker did work for and received money from a scam company.

    I know El Dennison did worse than this with Cheeto U, so it won’t bother him. but, really, putting in a criminal as even temporary head of the DOJ? Doesn’t that go a bit too far?

  21. mb says:

    Since both Supreme Court Justices Ginsberg and Kagan presided at homosexual marriages before they were legal, they should have recused themselves and then guess what?

    Yeah, we know what the answer is. If your a Dem you’re special. The law doesn’t apply.


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