The controversy over Kim Davis denying marriage licenses to gay couples continued during the Republican presidential debate on Thursday, although Chris Christie responded to a question about her by talking about taking on ISIS.
Months after the Kentucky clerk was found in contempt of court and jailed for refusing to comply with court orders in favor of marriage equality, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace and debate moderator asked Christie about his earlier remarks insisting Davis should comply with the law, or be moved to another job.
The New Jersey governor clarified he doesn’t object to Davis opting out of giving marriage licenses as long as someone in her office can do the job.
“What I said, Chris, is the law needs to be followed and that someone in that office has to do their job,” Christie said. “So, if Ms. Davis wanted to step aside and get rid of her ability to be able to do that, there should be someone else in that office, who it didn’t violate their conscience so they could follow the law in the state of Kentucky.
Christie took the position that a gay couple that went to her office should have been able to get a marriage license, although the person issuing it didn’t need to be Davis.
“I never said that Ms. Davis should either lose her job or that she had to do it, but what I did say was that the person who came in for the license needed to get it,” Christie said.
As Christie pointed out, someone in the Rowan County’s clerk office, Deputy Clerk Brian Mason, has been issuing marriage licenses to couples after Davis was found in contempt of court (although since Davis returned to work, she changed the licenses so they say they’re issued “pursuant to federal court order” instead of under her authority).
“If there’s someone in that organization, and it turns out there was, who was willing to be able to do that, that’s what we should do,” Christie said.
But Christie, as he and other candidates did with other questions during the debate, shifted topics in his response and talked about the Islamic State of Syria & Iraq, saying its defeat is also a matter of religious freedom.
“Here’s the problem with what’s going on around the world: The radical Islamic jihadists, what they want to do is impose their faith upon each and every one of us, and the reason why this war against them is so important is that very basis of religious liberty,” Christie said. “They want everyone in this country to follow their religious beliefs the way they do. They do not want us to exercise religious liberty. That’s why as commander-in-chief, I will take on ISIS, not only because it keeps us safe, but because it allows us to absolutely conduct our religious affairs that way we find in our heart and our souls.”
Christie added, “As a Catholic, that’s what I want to do, and no matter what your faith is, that’s what I want you to be able to do.”
Gregory Angelo, president of Log Cabin Republicans, endorsed Christie’s remarks on Twitter, but noted Davis forbade deputies to issue licenses in her stead.
Christie is right – the real problem w/Kim Davis was that she could have allowed deputies to issue licenses instead, but didn’t. #GOPDebate
— Gregory T. Angelo (@gregorytangelo) January 29, 2016