Election 2020

Kim Davis Rejected His Same-Sex Marriage License; Now Kentucky Dem Wants Her Job

David Ermold, right, files to run for Rowan County Clerk in Kentucky as Clerk Kim Davis look on Dec. 6, 2017, in Morehead, Ky. (AP Photo/Adam Beam)

David Ermold has decided it is time for some payback. Two years ago, his local county clerk, Kim Davis (R), rejected Ermold’s application for a marriage license because the Morehead, Ky., man wanted to marry his same-sex partner.

Now Ermold wants Davis’ job as the clerk of Rowan County, Ky.

Davis announced in November that she would seek re-election in 2018. It will be the first time she’s faced voters since worldwide attention was focused on Rowan County because Davis proclaimed “God’s authority” prevented her from issuing gay marriage licenses.

Three other candidates have also filed to run against Davis, but Ermold is the most notable, at least from a national perspective, because of his history with the woman who became a symbol for religious liberty proponents.

Ironically, Ermold, even if he does win the county clerk’s election, won’t have the chance to sign off on a same-sex marriage license.

Kentucky lawmakers, as Davis requested, approved legislation in 2016 that dropped the names of county clerks from marriage licenses.

“We now have a single form that accommodates all concerns. Everyone benefits from this common-sense legislation,” Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) said in a statement. “They (county clerks) are now able to fully follow the law without being forced to compromise their religious liberty.”

So, issuing gay marriage licenses probably won’t be a central issue in the campaign for Rowan County Clerk.

However, Ermold told reporters as he prepared to submit the paperwork needed to run for election that the history between Davis and him does matter.

“I think we need to deal with the circumstances and the consequences of what happened,” Ermold said. “I have an obligation here, really, to do this and to set things right.”

Davis became more than just a symbol of religious liberty in America. She flew to Romania in October to campaign for a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage in that Eastern European country.

Ermold told Broadly that Davis’ visit to Romania angered him so much that he decided to run against her in November.

“We have an absolutely fantastic community, but that’s not how it was displayed over the last two years.” Ermold said. “This time, it’s not Kim Davis who’s going to be deciding on equality – it’s going to be the people of Rowan County.”

Ermold sees the Rowan County Clerk’s election from a national perspective. He said his decision to run also came about because Donald Trump won election to the White House, which was followed by an executive order seeking to bar transgender people from serving in the military.

While Ermold realizes his first responsibility will be the duties of the Rowan County Clerk’s Office, he also said, “There’s a broader, more ideological goal here.”

And after his fellow Democrat Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate special election last Tuesday, Ermold wrote on his Facebook page, “If we can win in Alabama, we can win in Rowan County. Join me in turning Kentucky blue.”

“Kick her but {sic} like Doug Jones just kicked the butt of Roy Moore!!!” wrote one of his Facebook supporters.

How could the shared history of Ermold and Davis, along with the national debate over LGBT rights, not have an impact on their race for county clerk?

Davis felt strongly enough about her duty as a Christian not to sign Ermold’s marriage license that she spent five days in the Rowan County Jail.

During the two-hour hearing that culminated with her being sentenced to jail on a contempt of court charge, Davis told the judge that, as a Christian, she could not sign a marriage license for a gay couple.

“God’s moral law conflicts with my job duties,” Davis told the judge. “You can’t be separated from something that’s in your heart and in your soul.”

“I just want to give God the glory,” she said five days later, after a federal judge ordered her release. “Keep on pressing, don’t let down because He is here.”

When a reporter asked if spending five days in jail was worth it, the Washington Post reported Davis nodded her head and said, “Yes.”

Ermold, who eventually married his partner, filed with Davis his paperwork to run against Davis.

The Associated Press described the encounter between Ermold and Davis as friendly.

But it was also symbolic. As Ermold submitted and signed the necessary election paperwork, Davis hummed the old hymn “Jesus Paid It All.”

“It’s not settling a score,” Ermold told The Daily Beast. “In fact, I’ll tell you exactly what it is: This is going to bring closure. Whether I win or lose, this brings closure to everything. It puts a period at the end of this story.”