Months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, opponents of the decision have found their poster child: Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis.
On Friday evening, the anti-LGBT Family Research Council awarded the “Cost of Discipleship” award to Davis, who spent five days in jail after refusing to do her job and enforcing a “no marriage licenses policy” in her Kentucky office despite multiple court orders.
Upon taking the stage at the Values Voter Summit at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in D.C., Davis was handed a bouquet of flowers and wiped tears from her face as she took to the podium to applause.
“I feel so very undeserving,” she said. “I want to start by thanking my lord and savior, Jesus Christ, because without him this would have never been possible, for he is my strength that carried me.”
Raising her arms in the air, Davis shouted, “I am only one, but we are many!”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, compared Davis to civil rights leaders Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., in remarks prior to giving Davis an award and urged others to follow the example of the Kentucky clerk.
“It is time that Christians in American began to stand for their faith,” Perkins said. “Kim Davis should not be an outlier. Kim Davis should not be something that surprises America.”
Perkins added “there should be Kim Davises in every elected office at every level that say ‘no’ to judges” who have ruled for marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Mat Staver, chair of the Liberty Council, which is defending Davis in court, dismissed the contention Davis is unsuited for being honored for defending marriage because she’s been married four times, noting her conversion to Christianity four-and-a-half years ago.
“At that moment, Kim became a broken woman, she wept and gave her life to Jesus Christ, and from that moment on, she has not been the same person,” Staver said. “Once she was blind, but now she sees.”
Staver said the litigation against Davis is still proceeding. While that’s technically true, she’s unlikely to win based on her arguments. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court have declined to stay pending appeal the order from U.S. District Judge David Bunning against her “no licenses” policy.
Stephen Peters, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, said the decision by the Family Research Council to recognize Davis with an award isn’t surprising.
“What is actually shocking is the number of Republican candidates who, in 2015, are prepared to attend a conference sponsored by an anti-LGBT organization and applaud someone for depriving same-sex couples of their Constitutional rights,” Peters said. “We are going to make sure that the overwhelming majority of pro-equality voters in this country don’t forget that.”
Davis wasn’t the only person at the summit honored for engaging in anti-LGBT discrimination. Prior to her award presentation, the twin brothers David and Jason Benham, baseball players-turned conservative activists, moderated a panel featuring seven individuals who faced consequences for engaging in anti-LGBT bias.
Those individuals were Casey County Clerk Casey Davis from Kentucky, fired Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, Air Force Sgt. Philip Monk, Baronelle Stutzman from Washington State, Richard and Betty Odagaard of Iowa as well as Melissa and Aaron Klein of “Sweetcakes by Melissa” in Oregon.
Earlier on Friday, Davis announced in an interview with Reuters she was switching to the Republican Party after having been elected to the office of county clerk as a Democrat.
“My husband and I had talked about it for quite a while and we came to the conclusion that the Democratic Party left us a long time ago, so why were we hanging on?” she’s quoted as saying.