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Why Hasn't Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis, Defying Same-Sex Marriage Order, Been Fired?

Under Kentucky’s constitution, elected officials can be removed only by impeachment, which takes a vote by state lawmakers — which seems unlikely.
Image: Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis listens to a customer following her office's refusal to issue marriage licenses at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Although her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied, Davis still refuses to issue marriage licenses. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)Timothy D. Easley / AP

Removing defiant Kentucky clerk Kim Davis from her position isn’t an easy prospect.

Davis — the Rowan County official who said she feels empowered by "God’s authority" to defy the U.S. Supreme Court and deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples — was elected to the position last November.

And, under Kentucky’s constitution, elected officials can only be removed by impeachment, which takes a vote of the state legislature.

At this point, that appears unlikely. Davis has also said she will not resign.

"It is a Heaven or Hell decision," Davis said in a statement. "To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God’s word."

The Supreme Court refused to intervene on Monday, and left in place a federal judge’s ruling ordering Davis to continue issuing marriage licenses as she pursued the matter in court. It was the first legal skirmish to reach the Supreme Court since it declared on June 26 that the Constitution guarantees gay couples the right to get married.

Related: Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis Defies Supreme Court, Turns Down Gay Couples

Immediately after that ruling, Kentucky's governor, Steve Beshear, ordered all the state's county clerks to abide by the decision and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Davis refused to comply.

She stopped issuing all marriage licenses — to both same-sex and opposite sex couples — in the days after the landmark decision, saying she did not want to discriminate. In response, two gay couples and two straight couples sued her, arguing that her duties as an elected official required her to act, despite her personal religious beliefs.

A federal judge ordered her to issue the licenses, and last week the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

A judge has summoned Davis and her deputies to a hearing on Thursday.

Couples who have sued Davis for marriage licenses have asked U.S. District Judge David Bunning to hold Davis in contempt and fined, but not thrown in jail.

In the meantime, she has become somewhat of a cause célèbre for religious conservatives.

Over the weekend, at a rally organized by the conservative Family Foundation, Christian supporters cheered Davis on, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.

"Clerks' lives matter. Christian lives matter. Religious liberty matters. The inalienable rights of every single American matter,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin told the crowd.