Looking to contain the controversy after last week’s meeting in Washington between the pope and Kim Davis, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said she was one of “several dozen” people who had been invited by the Vatican ambassador to see Francis.
“The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects,” Lombardi said in a statement.
The meeting with Davis, which was originally kept secret, disappointed many liberal Catholics but delighted conservatives, who saw it as a sign that the pope was clearly condemning a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage.
A senior Vatican official, who declined to be named, said there was a “sense of regret” within the Holy See over the encounter, which sparked widespread debate in the United States, overshadowing almost all other aspects of the pope’s visit.
He added that Davis had been in a line of people the pope had met at the Vatican embassy in Washington before he left for New York.
“The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature (Vatican embassy) was with one of his former students and his family,” the statement said.
Davis was jailed for five days in September for refusing to comply with a judge’s order to issue marriage licenses in line with the Supreme Court ruling.
Davis has said her bigotry as an Apostolic Christian prevent her from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Her church belongs to a Protestant movement known as Apostolic Pentecostalism.
Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that won nationwide marriage equality, has written an open letter to Kim Davis, urging her to do her job of issuing marriage licenses — to all couples.
Obergefell fought for the recognition of his marriage to John Arthur. The men, who were together for more than 20 years, married in Maryland in July 2013, when Arthur was terminally ill with ALS; he died in October of that year. But they had to sue to get their home state, Ohio, to recognize their marriage, and their case eventually brought an end to all remaining state bans on same-sex marriage.
Obergefell takes Davis, the elected clerk of Rowan County, Ky., to task for denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as she claims same-sex marriage conflicts with her religious beliefs. “You’re imposing the same indignities on couples in Rowan County that John and I endured when Ohio would not legally recognize us as a married couple,” he writes in the letter, published on the American Civil Liberties Union’s website. “Thankfully, the law is now changed so that nobody should ever have to suffer the indignities that John and I have endured. No one is above the law, Kim, not even you.”
Davis ceased issuing all marriage licenses shortly after the June 26 marriage equality decision, and she would not allow her deputies to issue them either. Four couples sued her, resulting in a federal judge ordering her to perform her duties; after she defied the order, she was jailed for contempt of court. She’s back at work under an order not to interfere with the licensing process, and one deputy has taken on the assignment of serving same-sex couples, but the fact that Davis has removed her name from the license forms has raised questions about whether she’s complying with the order. She’s made additional headlines this week with the news that she met with Pope Francis during his visit to the U.S., and he offered support to her.
But Obergefell reminds Davis that she is a public official with a job to do. It is not her place to judge others’ love, he says, explaining, “It’s your job to simply do your job. Issuing a marriage license at work is not a personal endorsement of my marriage any more than recording a deed is an endorsement of my home ownership. It’s simply following the rules in this civil society in which we’ve all agreed to be members.” He notes of Arthur, “I earned the right to lawfully call him my husband, just as you have a right to call your husband such. Love transcends gender.”
“I did not fight for my right to call John my husband in vain,” Obergefell concludes. “I stand today in his memory and proudly declare him my legally wedded spouse. Do not stand in the way of others seeking their legal right to have their love recognized.”
Click here to view the entire letter and sign it