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“Kentucky’s Kim Davis Is Out Of Jail, But For How Long?”: Her Defiant Stand Seems Likely To Land Davis Right Back In Jail

At a distance, it’s understandable why U.S. District Judge David Bunning agreed today to release Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis from jail. Bunning locked Davis up last week after she brazenly defied a court order, but in the days since, the clerk’s office has begun honoring the law and issuing marriage licenses to all couples, not just those Davis finds morally acceptable.

With this in mind, the Kentucky clerk, who believes she has “God’s authority” to ignore laws she doesn’t like, walked out of a detention center this afternoon, to the hearty applause of an assembled group of conservative activists. MSNBC’s Emma Margolin reported, however, the next question is how long it might take before Davis is jailed once more.

[Davis’] attorney said that Davis would continue to abide by her conscience, which cannot condone same-sex nuptials, and that all licenses issued since her incarceration were not valid.

The defiant stand seems likely to land Davis right back in jail….

In this morning’s court order, Judge Bunning, a George W. Bush appointee and the son of a former far-right senator, said he is “satisfied that the Rowan County Clerk’s Office is fulfilling its obligation to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples,” consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality. As a result, Bunning lifted the contempt sanction against Davis and she was free to go.

So, problem solved, right? Wrong.

Bunning’s order specifically said that Davis, her religious beliefs notwithstanding, “shall not interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.”

But as the MSNBC report added, Davis’s lawyer, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, suggested she’s likely to defy this order, too.

“She cannot allow a license authorizing same-sex marriage to go under her authority or name,” Staver said in an interview with NBC News’ Gabe Gutierrez, ahead of Davis’ release. “That’s been her position from the beginning and that will be her position, I assume, on any subsequent occasion. She’s asking for a simple fix, a simple accommodation.”

 “We’re back to square one,” he added. “She’s been released. But there has been no resolution.”

In this case, the “simple accommodation” will not include Davis honoring the law, or following court orders, or fulfilling her oath of office, or even finding a job where her responsibilities aren’t in conflict with her religious principles. When Staver says “simple accommodation,” he effectively means “the legal authority to block marriages Davis doesn’t like.”*

If you read MaddowBlog over the weekend, you know that Staver leads a right-wing legal group created by the late Jerry Falwell. Staver has argued, more than once, that Kim Davis is comparable to a Jewish person living under Nazi rule. He wasn’t kidding.

As for the politics of all of this, while we wait for Davis to end up in jail again, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) – two second-tier Republican presidential candidates – went to almost comedic lengths to exploit the Kentucky controversy to advance their own personal ambitions.

* Update: One other possible accommodation that’s come up is removing Davis’ name from licenses issued by this clerk’s office. That said, if Davis interferes with her colleagues fulfilling their official duties, this may prove insufficient.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Madow Blog, September 8, 2015

September 9, 2015 Posted by | Kim Davis, Marriage Equality, Rule of Law | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“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

“WTF Is ‘Natural Marriage’?”: When You Don’t Like The Way A Debate Is Going, Change The Terms

Today’s Politics 101 pop quiz: In the course of a fierce ideological battle, when it becomes clear that one side is getting its butt kicked, what are leaders of the losing team expected to do? A. Double down. B. Scare the crap out of their followers. C. Beg for money. D. All of the above.

No one really needs help with this one, do they?

So with public acceptance of gay marriage growing faster than Justin Bieber’s rap sheet, the culture warriors at the Family Research Council have been hawking their National Campaign in Defense of Natural Marriage. In multiple email calls to arms, FRC president Tony Perkins is urging people of “character and values” to “take a stand” by signing an on-line petition and, while they’re at it, donating a little something to this “counteroffensive.” By March 31, FRC wants—nay, “needs”—250,000 signatures and $1.1 million to “fund this demanding work of behalf of America’s families.” At that point, the e-petition will be deposited at the feet of the group’s latest hero, Sen. Ted Cruz, “in a public display of support for natural marriage.” Perkins pleads/warns/threatens: “I want to encourage you: natural marriage is not a lost cause in America—unless we give up and let the same-sex ‘marriage’ advocates have their way because we failed to stand up for what is right.”

Now, as a political obsessive subscribed to an unhealthy number of email lists, I receive a daily flood of overwrought solicitations from across the spectrum. Most I toss after a quick glance. But Perkins’s latest entreaties stopped me, not because of their tone or topic but because of their language. Specifically, I somehow missed the moment when “natural marriage” became the preferred term of anti-gay-marriage crusaders. (Sadly, despite several interview requests, the folks at FRC were unavailable to discuss this matter.)

It makes perfect sense when you think about it. As political rhetoric goes, “natural marriage” is ever so much more evocative—and, better yet, provocative—than the more commonly employed term “traditional marriage.” After all, plenty of folks would be amenable to, or perhaps even charmed by, the idea of an untraditional marriage. An unnatural marriage, by contrast, brings to mind all manner of unsavory couplings—like, for instance, the man-on-dog action that keeps Rick Santorum up at night. And, indeed, defenders of “natural marriage” talk a lot about how gay marriage is an affront to God’s “natural law.”

The folks at FRC did not, it should be noted, come up with the phrase on their own. The Catholic Church, for instance, tends to refer to “natural marriage” in contrast to “sacramental marriage”—the former being an exclusive, lifetime covenant between a man and a woman of no particular religious backgrounds, while the latter is specifically the union of a man and woman baptized within the Church. In this context, a natural marriage, while good and legitimate, is nonetheless spiritually inferior to a sacramental one.

Less canonically, “natural marriage” is also at times used as a rough synonym for “common-law marriage.” Even if limited to the hetero variety, such non-ceremonial arrangements, recognized by only a handful of states, would seem to be a far cry from the super-stable family environments that natural-marriage advocates are ostensibly seeking.

Not that any of this much matters now, as “natural marriage”  has become a rallying cry for those looking to beat back, as Perkins puts it, “the agenda of the Progressive Left and radical homosexual lobby.” Back in 2004, a FRC pamphlet promoting hetero-only unions was all about “traditional marriage,” as were many of the group’s other communiques up through 2012. More recently, however, its commentary has been increasingly all “natural,” so to speak. Similarly, conservative groups like the Liberty Counsel (the legal nonprofit that takes up conservative causes pro bono) and Americans for the Truth about Homosexuality are solidly on the “natural” bandwagon.

As conservative spin doctor Frank Luntz taught us, if you don’t like the way a debate is going, you need to change the terms. Literally. Trying to rally a nation against the estate tax is a tough lift. But a “death tax”? Now there’s rhetorical gold. “Global warming” = scary and bad; “climate change,” not so much. In some cases, the differences may amount to no more than a couple of letters—say, the Democratic party vs. the Democrat party. And when it comes to firing up the faithful, not to mention separating them from their cash, “natural marriage” certainly seems to pack more gut-level oomph than its more “traditional” cousin.

The debate in question, however, may be beyond the point of such rhetorical retrofitting. These days, not even the veiled threats of bestiality, polygamy, and other comparably “unnatural” acts seem likely to derail the marriage equality train. Which may explain why, with less than a week left in its petition drive, FRC had yet to crack 10,000 signatories. Only 240,000 to go.

 

By: Michelle Cottle, The Daily Beast, March 27, 2014

March 29, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, Marriage Equality | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Progressive “Paper Tigers”: Religious Right Advocating Violence Against “Secularist Left Bullies”

Matt Barber of the Liberty Counsel yesterday on his radio show seemed to advocate for violence by people of faith against “the secularist left” whom he called “bullies.” Barber likened progressive and secular left-wing groups to “paper tigers” and school yard bullies who attempt to intimidate people into silence.

“On yesterday’s episode of the ‘Faith and Freedom’ radio program, Matt Barber stated that groups such as ours and Americans United and the ACLU were nothing but ‘paper tigers’ to whom conservatives must stand up,” People for the American Way’s Kyle Mantyla writes today at their Right Wing Watch blog:

In fact, said Barber, the “secularist left” in general is nothing buy a bunch of bullies who intimidate the righteous and push “religious bigotry” on everyone else. And like all bullies, they just need to be punched in the mouth.

Barber is the Vice President of Liberty Counsel Action and an Associate Dean and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Law at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University School of Law, and also serves on the board of the SPLC-certified anti-gay hate group, Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, and is the Policy Director for Cultural Issues at Concerned Women for America.

Last month, in direct contradiction to FBI published statistics, Barber falsely claimed there is “no evidence” of mass anti-gay violence but the “specter” of violence against gay people has forced churches into the closet.

Last year, Barber said that “at the heart of modern Liberalism is rebellion toward God, is hatred for God,” and also claimed that gays know in their hearts that there is no such thing as two mothers or fathers and that all they really want is to destroy the American family.

Also last year, Barber said gays are terrorists and want to put conservatives in jail.

Unsurprisingly, Barber is one of several dozen anti-gay pundits tracked by GLAAD’s Commentator Accountability Project (CAP). See his entry here.

Transcript and video via Right Wing Watch:

They’re bullies. And we know that we people stand up to the bully on the playground – the bully on the playground intimidates, that’s what he does, intimidates people into silence, into fear, into avoiding the bully. And oftentimes the bully is the paper tiger and when the righteous individual who is being bullied defends his or herself and punches the bully in the mouth, guess what, the bully more times than not has a glass jaw, falls down and then everyone on the playground says “whoa, the bully was a weakling after all.”

That’s the secularist left. The secularist left are bullies. They try to bully and intimidate and push religious intolerance and religious bigotry on everyone else.

Of course, ironically, Barber and his ilk are the true bullies, and are responsible for contributing to an environment of homophobic hate that leads a great number of LGBT youth and teens to suicide.

 

By: David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement, April 18, 2012

April 19, 2012 Posted by | Civil Rights | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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