Rowan County, Kentucky, and its largest city (and county seat), Morehead, have been in the news over the past few weeks as its officious county clerk, Kim Davis, sought to make herself a martyr and national celebrity by refusing to follow the law and issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Mrs. Davis told the press that he was making that controversial stand against gay marriage under "God's authority."
The four-time-married Mrs. Davis who became pregnant with twins by husband number three while still married to husband number one apparently felt herself to be the obvious choice to determine and uphold God's will in matters related to marriage. Republican presidential candidate and fellow spokesman for God, Mike Huckabee, rushed to Morehead to share Mrs. Davis's limelight and to be on hand when the judge finally released her from her confinement.
Mrs. Davis describes herself as an apostolic Christian who goes to church every time the doors are open, a statement that might lead to the assumption that Rowan County and Morehead are particularly fundamentalist Christian in nature. And to a certain extent, that is true. According to the 2000 census there were 25 evangelical churches in the county, four mainline protestant churches, one Catholic church, and one Latter Day Saints. But even with all of those doors open on Sundays, not many people attend. Rowan County ranks 113th of the 120 Kentucky counties in overall church attendance.
The county also describes itself as "moist" when it comes to liquor sales. Rowan is a dry county, but the city of Morehead does allow sales of package liquor.
Part of the reason that liquor sales are allowed in Morehead, as well possibly why such a low percentage of county residents go to church, may be the presence of a small public state university being located in Morehead. The school, Morehead State University, is home to more than ten thousand students, making it likely to serve as some sort of balance to the area's conservatism.
The median family income in Rowan County is just barely over $33,000 per year. The average income for males is $26,777, and that of females is $20,104. Those figures would tend to strongly indicate that it is an economically depressed area - even with a university. Clearly, the county could stand some sort of economic stimulus - especially after the reporters tire of Mrs. Davis and her delusions of importance and return to their homes out in civilization.
My humble suggestion:
I recommend taking advantage of this momentary bubble of fame - in a positive and pro-active manner - and making Morehead the gay marriage capital of America. While the city itself would likely be resistive to this change in its character, the national gay and lesbian community could make it happen with the establishment of open-minded wedding chapels, as well as speciality bakeries, florists, and travel agencies. Morehead, being located along the foothills of the Appalachians, would undoubtedly also have many scenic spots for honeymoon cottages and resorts. And surely many of those college students already in town would jump at the chance to work at someplace other than a mill or a factory.
This could be an idea that revitalizes a community. Morehead could go from being the kind of place that produces Bible-thumping bigots to a town that embraces the living Constitution in all of its glory. When the town has fully established itself as America's gay beacon, the proud citizens will be able to look back and know that they have people like Kim Davis and Mike Huckabee to thank for its transformation.
Morehead, Kentucky, could have a lot of pride in its future.