Matt Bevin, the Republican nominee in Kentucky's governor race, said he "absolutely" backs Rowan County clerk Kim Davis's refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
"I absolutely support her willingness to stand on her First Amendment rights," Bevin said on a conference call Tuesday, according to the Courier-Journal. "Without any question I support her."
Bevin also criticized his Democratic rival, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, who refused to defend the state's gay marriage ban after a federal judge overturned it last year. Conway has said any clerk who refuses to issue licenses is is "opening himself or herself to potential legal liability and sanctions."
“There are stark, stark contrasts between myself and Jack Conway,” Bevin said, accusing his rival of not respecting religious freedom. "His hypocrisy on this issue to say his conscience, not his constitutional right, prevented him from doing his job but he has come out and been on the record as stating these clerks need to do their job or quit."
Davis has drawn national attention for refusing to grant marriage licenses to LGBT couples following the Supreme Court's decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, claiming doing so would violate her right to religious freedom. Davis filed an emergency injunction with the Supreme Court after a federal court ordered her to issue the licenses, but the high court declined to halt the order.
She has, however, remained defiant, saying she can continue to refuse to issue the licenses "under God's authority."
While many politicians have called on Davis to resign, removing her from office would be no easy task. HuffPost's Cristian Farias reported Tuesday:
Kentucky law largely shields an elected official like Davis from being forced out of her post. Until the next election, when the voters can boot her, she can be removed only through impeachment by the state legislature.
That's a messy, lengthy process that has rarely been pursued in Kentucky. The simpler alternative, as Gov. Steve Beshear (D) told another recalcitrant clerk, would be for Davis to either issue the licenses or resign. But even the governor is legally powerless to make her resign.
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