Right-Wing Gov. Hands Kim Davis Big Win, Screws Over Low-Income Workers in One Fell Swoop
Rowan County clerk Kim Davis has become a right-wing national hero for her steadfast refusal to abide by federal legislation making marriage equality a national right. For months on end, Davis has used various illegal means in order to shirk the duties of her office, from not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples to declining to sign the licenses once issued. At one point, Davis was even arrested for her lack of compliance but remained undeterred in her crusade to prevent same-sex marriage in her Kentucky county. Now, thanks to newly elected Republican governor Matt Bevin, who is rolling back multiple gains made by Democratic predecessor Steve Beshear, Davis has won a victory in her bigoted battle.
Bevin, making good on a campaign promise that may have contributed to his electoral win, has issued an executive order that removes the need for Kentucky county clerks to include their name and signature on marriage licenses. As the New Civil Rights Movement notes, it’s unclear if the governor can usurp the state law, but only time will tell if the order will face legal challenges. In the meantime, Davis—a three-time divorcee who seems a poor representative for so-called traditional family values—can confidently proceed in her quest knowing she has gubernatorial support.
Gov. Bevin has also produced an executive order to drop the minimum wage for state employees from $10.10 per hour to $7.25. The governor issued another order seeking to remove voting rights from ex-felons. Bevin’s predecessor Beshear had signed an executive order to restore the right to vote for 140,000 former felons. For now, though those rights have not been suspended, NCRM reports, they hang in the legislative balance.
Despite his own use of an executive order to override Kentucky law, Bevin suggested he opposes the use of those orders—at least when they are used to support progressive policies.
“While I have been a vocal supporter of the restoration of rights, it is an issue that must be addressed through the legislature and by the will of the people,” Bevin wrote in a statement to the Lexington Herald Leader. He also stated that he had put forth the executive order “[t]o ensure that the sincerely held religious beliefs of all Kentuckians.”
Newly hired state workers will be impacted by Bevin’s minimum wage cut, while those whose salaries have already been raised will retain their pay hikes, according to Opposing Views. Bevin took time in his statement to speak to the workers who will now receive starting salaries of just $7.25 an hour.
“The minimum wage stifles job creation,” the governor asserted in his executive order, “and disproportionately impacts lower skilled workers seeking entry-level jobs. Wage rates ideally would be established by the demands of the labor market instead of being set by the government.”
Kentucky has a long history of electing Democratic governors. Bevin, a Tea Party candidate who was elected on December 8, is the third GOPer elected to the position since WWII.