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“The Obvious Remedy”: Why Kentucky’s Kim Davis Won’t Find A Different Job

One of the oddities of the Kim Davis story in Kentucky is the obvious remedy. The Kentucky clerk has a job in which she’s supposed to issue marriage licenses, but Davis doesn’t want to issue licenses to couples she deems morally inadequate. So why doesn’t Davis find some other job in which her responsibilities won’t conflict with her religious views?

Indeed, given her public notoriety, if she asked far-right leaders for a paid position somewhere, Davis probably wouldn’t have much trouble landing another gig – one which her conscience would be comfortable with.

Last night, the clerk explained her perspective.

Kentucky clerk Kim Davis on Wednesday night explained to Fox News’ Megyn Kelly why she has still refused to resign despite numerous failed attempts to receive an accommodation for her religious beliefs.

 “If I resign I lose my voice,” Davis said. “Why should I have to quit a job that I love, that I’m good at?”

I imagine that was a rhetorical question, but the answer isn’t exactly complicated. If you have a job that requires you to do things you consider morally objectionable, you have a choice: meet your professional obligations anyway or find a different job. Davis’ argument is that she should continue to be paid to perform duties she refuses to do – to the point that she’s comfortable defying court rulings, her oath of office, and court orders.

As for Davis’ belief that she’ll lose her “voice” if she gets a different job, I have no idea what that means. She can continue to speak her mind on whatever topics she chooses, whether she’s a county clerk or something else entirely. Davis need not receive taxpayer money in order to have a “voice.”

Meanwhile, in the courts, the Kentucky clerk continues to strike out. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported this morning:

U.S. District Judge David Bunning refused to grant Davis an emergency stay that she requested for the preliminary injunction he issued last month, ordering her to resume issuing marriage licenses. […]

At a hearing Sept. 3 in Ashland, where Bunning sent Davis to jail for five days for contempt of court, the judge expanded his mandate to include all eligible couples in Rowan County, rather than just the couples who sued Davis…. In a five-page order Wednesday, Bunning denied the stay motion that Davis subsequently filed with him. The judge said he had no intention of letting Davis grant marriage licenses to eligible couples who are plaintiffs in the case while denying licenses to others.

Note, the ACLU filed a motion with Judge Bunning this week, accusing Davis of defying a court order from two weeks ago. He did not address that motion yesterday.

As for last night’s interview, Fox’s Megyn Kelly asked Davis, “You’re prepared to go back to jail if that’s what it takes?” The clerk replied, “Whatever the cost.”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 24, 2015

September 24, 2015 Posted by | Elected Officials, Kim Davis, Marriage Equality | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“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

“Conservatives Wrapping Noxious Notions In Code”: ‘Religious Liberty’ Looks A Lot Like Intolerance From Here

To me,” she said in a statement, “this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God’s word. It is a matter of religious liberty.”

It’s telling that Kim Davis chose those words to defend herself last week. Davis, the clerk of Rowan County, a rural, impoverished, and previously obscure patch of northeastern Kentucky, made international headlines for her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She had, should it need saying, not a legal leg to stand on, the Supreme Court having ruled in June that states may not bar such couples from marrying. On Thursday, Davis was jailed for contempt. The thrice-divorced clerk had said she was acting upon “God’s authority” and fighting for “religious liberty.”

The political right has long had a genius for wrapping noxious notions in code that sounds benign and even noble. The “Patriot Act,” “family values,” and “right to work.” are fruits of that genius. “Religious liberty” is poised to become their latest masterpiece, the “states’ rights” of the battle for a more homophobic America.

A few months ago, you will recall, “religious liberty” was claimed as the rationale for failed laws in Indiana and Arkansas that would have empowered businesses to refuse service to gay people. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Georgia lawmakers will introduce a new “religious liberty” bill there next year. Last week, Mike Huckabee praised Davis for “standing strong for religious liberty.” Chris Christie, while conceding the need to obey the law, spoke of the need to “protect religious liberty,” as if religious liberty were seriously in danger in one of the most religiously tolerant nations on Earth.

Of course, like all good code, this one hides its true meaning in the banality of its words. Most of us would likely support the right of Native Americans to ingest peyote in their religious rituals, or Jewish or Muslim inmates to grow beards. Some of us even believe no religious order can be required to ordain a woman, admit a congregant of a proscribed race or, yes, perform a same-sex marriage. We understand a core American principle that, within certain broad parameters, one’s right to practice one’s faith as one pleases is inviolable.

But “religious liberty” as defined by Davis and her supporters is about what happens in the wide world beyond those parameters, about whether there exists a right to deny ordinary, customary service and claim a religious basis for doing so. And there does not.

Davis is wrong for the same reasons Muslim cabbies in Minneapolis-St. Paul were wrong some years ago when they claimed a right to not carry passengers who had alcohol on them and Christian pharmacists were wrong when they claimed a right not to fill birth control prescriptions. You have a right to your religious conscience. You do not have a right to impose your conscience upon other people.

And if conscience impinges that heavily upon your business or your job, the solution is simple: Sell the business or quit the job. Otherwise, serve your customers and keep your conscience out of their affairs.

Taken to its logical conclusion, it is not just gay men and lesbians who are threatened by the “religious liberty” movement, but all of us. Is it too much of a stretch to suggest that most of us probably run afoul of somebody’s reading of their religion in some way or another? Who would welcome a future where you couldn’t just enter a place and expect service but, rather, must read the signs to determine if it caters to people of your sexual orientation, marital status, religion or race?

We tried something like that once. It didn’t work.

Sadly, if people like Kim Davis have their way, we may be required to try it again. They call it “religious liberty.”

It looks like intolerance from here.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, September 7, 2015

 

September 8, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, Kim Davis, Religious Liberty | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“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

“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

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