NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – Laurie Annie Gaylor, co-president of the militant atheist Freedom from Religion Foundation, the Wisconsin-based lawsuit mill best known for suing states, cities and school districts for their religious displays, has penned a scathing response to both presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis for their celebration after Davis was released from jail Sept. 8.
Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and served five days in jail for contempt of court, left the jail to the cheers of her supporters – hand in hand with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
"If somebody needs to go to jail, I'm willing to go in her place," Huckabee said to the crowd. "And I mean that, because I'm tired of watching people being harassed because they believe something of their faith."
"God showed up in the form of an elected official: Kim Davis," Huckabee said.
Gaylor called the claim "absurd."
"At least to pandering presidential wannabes, defiant Rowan County, Ky., Clerk Kim Davis apparently looks like a political savior. Huckabee and Ted Cruz tried hard to hog some of Davis' limelight yesterday," Gaylor wrote.
Davis said Huckabee was disingenuous in his assessment of the situation when he said Davis was locked up for being a Christian and "for following her conscience and the law."
"How dishonest. Davis may be a Christian and may have been following her own hypocritical conscience, but she was locked up for refusing to do her job in accordance with the law," Gaylor wrote. "'To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God's definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience,'" Davis demurred, while having no qualms about violating the conscience, and civil liberties, of others."
Davis drew national attention immediately following the Obergefell v. Hodges decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in June. That decision legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Davis then stopped issuing all marriage licenses until an accommodation of her beliefs could be worked out. She did not want her name on the licenses because, she said, she felt it would be an endorsement of same-sex marriage. Davis became a Christian four-years ago.
After a federal appeals court ruled Davis had to issue the licenses, she still refused and was sentenced to jail by U.S. District Judge David Bunning.
"U.S. District Judge David Bunning properly noted that religious convictions cannot 'excuse her from performing the duties that she took an oath to perform as Rowan County Clerk,'" Gaylor wrote.
"Davis ran for the office knowing that her job would entail issuing and signing marriage licenses for applicants. (Further adding to the irony is the fact she's been divorced three times.)"
"Far from being the martyr her deluded fans consider her, even comparing her to Rosa Parks, Davis is a 21st century incarnation of segregationist governors who tried to block black students from attending integrated public schools.
Gaylor compared Davis to Alabama Gov. George Wallace who once tried to block the integration of the University of Alabama.
"Davis figuratively tried to stand in her county courthouse's door to block county citizens from legally marrying. She didn't just refuse to issue licenses herself, but barred anyone in her office from issuing them," Gaylor wrote, calling Davis a "bigot" who is not above the law.
"If Davis can't in good conscience carry out the duties of her public office, then the solution is clear: She needs to resign and end this fundamentalist circus. Otherwise, she should get off her knees and get to work."
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz also spoke of Davis, though not from the podium with Huckabee. Cruz said in a statement Davis' imprisonment was contrary to the Constitution and the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Cruz was joined at the rally by his pastor Gregg Matte, pastor of First Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, who publicized his support on social media.