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“Clerk Kim Davis Will Be A Lonely Footnote in History”: Relishing In Her Little Patch Of Our Amber Waves Of Grain

Tricky business, this righteous outrage. You have to be so careful not to sound like a hypocrite while you’re deriding hypocrisy. Messes with your sleep.

In the past few days, America’s news media — from the largest organizations to the smallest blogs — have made a star of a 49-year-old woman in Appalachia named Kim Davis.

Davis is the Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk who is refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. She is declaring a religious exemption for herself in her little patch of our amber waves of grain. And she’s an elected official, so no firing her.

I’m angry as all get-out over what Davis is doing, but I can’t blame her for relishing the national attention. She’s an American woman who, at her age, is supposed to be invisible. But there she is, popping up in everybody’s newsfeed on her way to becoming a lonely footnote in history.

After the U.S. Supreme Court essentially told her to knock it off, Davis released an online statement through her new best friends, the far-right Liberty Counsel. An excerpt:

I owe my life to Jesus Christ who loves me and gave His life for me. Following the death of my godly mother-in-law over four years ago, I went to church to fulfill her dying wish. There I heard a message of grace and forgiveness and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I am not perfect. No one is. But I am forgiven and I love my Lord and must be obedient to Him and to the Word of God.

I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage.

A brief interruption here to note what Jesus said about homosexuality.

Absolutely nothing.

Back to Davis:

To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision. For me it is a decision of obedience. I have no animosity toward anyone and harbor no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God’s Word.

As that excerpt illustrates, Davis is unreachable regarding her version of Christianity. Ridiculing her faith, her appearance, and her multiple marriages, as so many have, only further convinces her of her rightness. She thinks God wants her to be a martyr. To her and those using her, our ridicule — our persecution — is proof that she is right.

We’ve been here before in this country, and as we have before, we will soon uproot this obstacle on the road to justice.

NPR’s Robert Siegel asked Columbia University law professor Katherine Franke whether Davis’ refusal to marry same-sex couples mirrors white officials’ refusal to accept racial equality in the 1950s and ’60s.

“It’s exactly the same situation,” Franke said. “I think that certain people in certain places are changing their view on homosexuality … but not everyone is there yet. And some people base their opposition to equality for same-sex couples — or for lesbians and gay men — in religion, but they can’t use those values as a justification for not performing public functions.

“So what we’re seeing now really in a way mirrors quite clearly what we saw in the 1950s, where many communities were more than happy to close all of their pools and playgrounds and public schools rather than having black children and white children play together. And we saw that resistance pass in a short period of time.”

We don’t need to mock Davis for justice to prevail. If we are to live our message, that all marriages are equal, then I’d rather treat her with the respect she has denied others. She can believe whatever she wants. Same-sex marriage is the law of the land, including in Rowan County.

Davis is a flawed human, and in that, she has a lot in common with the rest of us. As various news organizations have reported, Davis has been married four times, twice to the same man, and pregnant with twins by a man who was not her husband at the time. Eventually, she turned to God, hoping to find a way out of her mess of a life.

We can point to her circuitous route to redemption and her current state of religious certainty and declare her a fool and a hypocrite. Or we can see her as a woman who has joined that long list of humans looking for a chance to be something other than their biggest mistakes. I’m not going to get into the reasons my name is on the list. How about you?

I am not excusing Kim Davis’ bigotry. I just don’t want to let it harden my own heart.

I do, however, want to know why it is that the meanest of my fellow Christians claim they get their marching orders from God while the decent ones just keep acting like Jesus, loving everyone as best they can.

I’m going to be thinking about that all evening. I expect it will be a long night.

 

By: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist and an Essayist for Parade Magazine; The National Memo, September 3, 2015

September 7, 2015 Posted by | Kim Davis, Religious Beliefs, Same Sex Marriage | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Born Of Same Bigotry As Segregation”: Kim Davis Is Not A Christian Martyr; The Kentucky Court Clerk Deserves To Be In The Clink

There are going to be some people who celebrate scofflaw County Clerk Kim Davis sitting behind bars. Most of them are her allies. Not even the American Civil Liberties Union lawyers wanted to send poor Kim to the pokey—likely because they wanted to deny her (and her allies) the exact image they’ve now been granted: the long-faced Davis in handcuffs, dourly professing that she loves Jesus more than she does the law.

“Civil disobedience” is fine—but they don’t call it being a “civil servant” because the county courthouse is run by Christian Grey. She’s supposed to do her job, not decide what it is. But Davis, temperamentally, is obviously more of a top, anyway, and probably should have sought a job in line with her personality. Maybe at the DMV.

The only thing louder than Davis’s protestations is the jingle of the coins being dropped in all the various collection boxes that lay claim to some similar cause. In our curious hate-donating economy, Davis will undoubtedly receive some monetary reward for showmanship—whether it comes via GoFundMe or a book contract—but it will be a fraction of what’s raised by the political ambulance-chasers dutifully filing in behind her.

Already many of the GOP presidential candidates have weighed in, creating the curious spectacle of lawmakers pre-emptively breaking their oaths of office: How can you promise to “uphold the Constitution” if you have already admitted that it has a loophole big enough for Davis to fit through?

The judge who ordered Davis to be held in contempt, and the deputy clerks who started issuing marriage licenses, may be the only Republican left who realizes that Davis’s stunt is something besides a fundraising appeal. Or, rather, he seems to understand that Davis offers only the literal fundraising appeal to end all fundraising appeals. Follow her logic to its fiery end—the Bible as the ultimate legal authority—and there would be no political offices left to run for, just law enforcement positions.

There are regimes like that in the world; we’re fighting wars with a few of them.

Others have pointed out that Davis’s brand of Christianity is itself not too far removed from the sort of blinkered false-purity doctrine that rules radical Islam: the prohibition on makeup or clothes that come in anything besides a hazmat-suit cut. But if you want to understand just how antithetical to democracy Davis’s ideas are, don’t think about what her church doesn’t allow. Instead, imagine what kind of world would make Kim Davis happy.

Davis, after all, was not merely registering an objection to same-sex marriage, she is objecting to the notion of civil society, to “liberalism” not as a policy position but a modern ideal. In my understanding of liberal democracy, a Christian county clerk signing the marriage licenses of gay couples is to be celebrated—for the exact same reasons we celebrate the right of non-Muslims to draw Mohammed: The idea that any one person’s individual religious preference should end the instant it imposes on the rights of another. The true test of religious liberty isn’t whether or not you can practice your own, but if your society has room for yours and a few others.

To judge by her written statements, I am not not much over-worried that Davis’s turn in a jail cell will produce anything besides more vague boilerplate religious freedom stew. In response to questions from Think Progress, fellow members of her denomination couldn’t even identify the precise theological dogma they were sure she was trying to defend: Apostolic Christianity, a lay leader explained, “does not have lengthy, codified statements on marriage, divorce, or homosexuality. Instead, he said, members usually look to one document for answers…The King James Bible.”

The sect’s aversion to reasoned argument means we will probably not be treated to Davis’s own “Letter from an Ashland Jail,” which is just as well, since neither she nor her movement would benefit from a direct comparison to Martin Luther King’s pointed yet lyrical rejoinder to the clergymen who objected to his civil disobedience, both as a tactic and with its target.

King justified the Birmingham business boycott that led to his imprisonment (he and others defied a court injunction against the protest) with a list of humiliations suffered by black men and women in the South—and it does not include anything remotely like “being forced to sign a piece of paper.”

Rather, it includes the kind of bodily harms—and quotidian insults—that reverberate for both people of color and those in the LGBT community today. Indeed, King presciently articulates exactly why obtaining the same marriage license granted to opposite-sex couples matters, because without the complete protection of equality under the law, those discriminated against are “living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments.” They are, King writes, “forever fighting a degenerating sense of ‘nobodiness.’”

One of the members of the couple to whom Davis denied a marriage license put it in only slightly less poetic terms: “When you’re gay and you grow up in Kentucky, you kind of get used to hiding who you are, accommodating other people and making them feel comfortable. You don’t realize how much of your own dignity you’ve given away. It catches up to you.”

King pleaded with the other men of faith to come around to his cause: “Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.” Davis, it must be noted, is in jail precisely because she believes in monologue. Her belief that she should not be forced to interact with those she disagrees with is born of the same bigotry as segregation—even if on the surface it looks like the most banal interactions: paperwork.

That she could interpret the presence of her signature on a marriage certificate as evidence of her own sin isn’t a testament to the strength of her convictions, but to the height of her arrogance.

 

By: Ana Marie Cox, The Daily Beast, September 4, 2015

 

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Christianity, Discrimination, Kim Davis | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Laws For Thee, But Not For Me”: Kentucky’s Kim Davis Jailed, Held In Contempt

Federal judges really don’t like it when people ignore court orders and claim the law doesn’t apply to them.

A federal judge has ordered a Kentucky clerk to jail after she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Kim Davis, a clerk in Rowan County, was found in contempt of court on Thursday morning…. Davis, in tears, said on the stand that she could not comply with the judge’s order. U.S. Marshals later took her into custody.

As she was being led out of the courtroom, the clerk said, “Thank you, judge.”

Davis, if you’re just joining us, is paid by taxpayers to issue marriage licenses, but she refuses to provide licenses to couples she finds morally objectionable, citing “God’s authority.” Davis and her lawyers have filed several appeals, all of which lost.

She could, of course, find some other job – one that doesn’t pit her professional responsibilities against her spiritual beliefs – but she refuses to do so. As we talked about yesterday, Davis feels entitled to keep her job and refuse to do her job at the same time.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning, appointed to the bench by George W. Bush, apparently didn’t find this persuasive.

Just so news consumers are clear, if you hear that Davis was jailed for her opposition to marriage equality, this is incorrect. She was taken into custody because she deliberately, brazenly ignored a court order. Davis was bound, not only to perform her official duties, but also to follow the law. She refused and is now in contempt of court.

Marriage-equality proponents did not ask the judge in the case to take her into custody, but by some measures, Judge Bunning didn’t have much of a choice.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 3, 2015

September 4, 2015 Posted by | Kim Davis, Law and Order, Marriage Equality | , , , , , | 3 Comments

“The Four-Time Bride Who Won’t Let Gays Get Married”: What Part Of “Separation Of Church And State” Doesn’t She Understand?

If ever there was an argument to make teenagers take citizenship exams before they can get a high-school diploma, it’s the Kentucky clerk who won’t issue marriage licenses to gay couples, and her all too supportive husband. Make that fourth husband.

“They want us to accept their beliefs and their ways. But they won’t accept our beliefs and our ways,” Joe Davis said of gay protesters at the Rowan County Courthouse, The Associated Press reported. “Their beliefs and their ways” is a reference to gay people who are trying to take advantage of the Supreme Court’s June ruling that they have a constitutional right to marry. “Our beliefs and our ways” refers to his wife Kim’s contention that she has the right to ignore the high court in favor of “God’s authority.”

That authority apparently includes godly approval to marry four times in a life so wildly imperfect that U.S. News & World Report could write this paragraph: “She gave birth to twins five months after divorcing her first husband. They were fathered by her third husband but adopted by her second.” All is now cool, though. According to her lawyer, Davis converted to Christianity a few years ago and her slate was wiped clean.

Would it be churlish to mention here that Davis has denied a marriage license several times to David Moore and David Ermold, who have been together for 17 years? Also, exactly what part of “separation of church and state” doesn’t she understand?

Davis has been sued for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, and the Supreme Court declined Monday to get involved. She can’t be fired because she was elected to her position, but she could be found in contempt of court.

The honorable thing would be to step down, as county clerks have done in states such as Tennessee, Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi. There is a long, long tradition of resignations over conscience issues. But Davis would rather keep her job and exempt herself from whatever she thinks her religion demands, regardless of how that affects the lives of the taxpayers she is supposed to serve.

There is plenty of precedent for exemptions based on faith or personal morality, of course. Conscientious objectors in wartime. Doctors who oppose abortion. And for over a year now, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, certain corporations run by religious families who don’t want to offer insurance coverage for contraception methods they consider tantamount to abortion.

Yet war is a matter of life and death, and for those who believe that life begins at conception, so is abortion. Gay marriage is different. Nobody is at risk of dying, not even a fertilized embryo. Beyond the happy couple, in fact, few—if any—are affected at all.

So it’s hard to see this Kentucky case as anything but religion injected into the public sphere, with intent to discriminate against adults who are pining to make the ultimate commitment to one another. Some of them already have done so informally, for years and years, their unions far more enduring than those Davis cemented with official vows. All they are asking now is to be married in the eyes of society, the law and their God.

Why would people want to deny others rights and happiness in their personal lives, which should be none of their business? Why is it so hard for some people to embrace or at least accept diversity? Human differences — of appearance, temperament, chemistry, biology and all the rest — are clearly part of The Plan, whether the design is God’s or nature’s or not a design at all.

Back in 2009, Gallup found “a strong case that knowing someone who is gay or lesbian fosters more accepting attitudes on many of the issues surrounding gay and lesbian relations today.” In 2013, three-quarters in a Gallup poll said they personally knew a friend, relative or co-worker who was gay or lesbian. This year, 6 in 10 people said gay marriage should be legal. Not surprisingly, that was a record high.

The Davis case is now a headline cause for Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit “litigation, education and policy organization” that offers pro bono legal assistance in cases related to its mission of “advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family.” But the data — and the Supreme Court moves — underscore that Davis, Liberty Counsel and their allies are outliers, bucking social and political trends that are rapidly leaving them behind.

 

By: Jill Lawrence, The National Memo, September 3, 2015

September 4, 2015 Posted by | Kim Davis, Marriage Equality, Separation of Church and State | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Never Mind The Law Of The Land”: Defending The God-Given Liberty Of County Clerks To Ignore Duties They Don’t Like

It’s sometimes easy to forget with all the presidential campaign stuff going on, but there will be gubernatorial elections in two states this November, Kentucky and Louisiana. And while the latter may really amount to a bipartisan celebration that Bobby Jindal’s finally leaving the office he’s become bored with as anything other than a presidential campaign prop, the former bids fare to be a good old-fashioned partisan cliffhanger. In a state that’s been trending pretty sharply Republican, however, Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway remains the betting favorite over Republican nominee Matt Bevin, best known as the Tea Party dude who got crushed by Mitch McConnell in a 2014 Senate primary.

But Bevin seems to think he’s found a big vote-pleaser, per the Louisville Courier-Journal‘s Phillip Bailey:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin said during a national conference call Tuesday he fully supports Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ right to refuse gay couples seeking marriage licenses.

“I absolutely support her willingness to stand on her First Amendment rights,” he said. “Without any question I support her.”

The strong defense of Davis’ actions underscores how the GOP nominee hopes to make the fight over gay marriage a centerpiece of the 2015 governor’s race, which polling shows is a tight race between him and Democratic nominee Jack Conway.

Conway’s position is that the Supreme Court decision striking down Kentucky’s same-sex marriage ban is the law of the land, and as such everyone, even public officials, should obey it (snark intended). There’s abundant evidence this is the way the wind’s blowing everywhere, which is why most Republican pols have stopped talking about the issue except when they are trapped in some church basement with members of their party base.

Bevin does, however, have a broader vision: like his junior senator, Rand Paul, he’s talking about getting government out of the marriage business altogether.

There’s the obvious problem with this idea, of course, that it strands the many, many policies Republicans favor that are linked to marital status. But beyond that, isn’t it a little drastic to separate marriage from the state when the issue at hand is the tender consciences of county clerks? I mean, perhaps I don’t understand Kentucky, and maybe county clerks there wield unusual power and possess unusual prestige, like sheriffs in Louisiana or water district councils in California. But if not, it may take Bevin a while to explain to regular Kentuckians that they should no longer be in state-sanctioned marriages because some county clerk wants to get paid to do some but not all of her job.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 2, 2015

September 3, 2015 Posted by | Jack Conway, Kim Davis, Marriage Equality, Matt Bevin | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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