The world must now know about Kim Davis, the Rowan county clerk who is defying the US court’s decision to give gay couples their marriage license. Despite being hauled into court and fined, the self-proclaimed Christian woman remained adamant that she wouldn’t do the court’s bidding.
Davis, who was tearful at times during court appearances, testified that she could not obey the order, and that God’s law trumps the court. “My conscience will not allow it,” she said. “… God’s moral law convicts me and conflicts with my duties.”
U.S. District Judge David Bunning thereupon remanded her in the custody of federal marshals, saying that fines were not enough to force her to comply with a previous order to provide the paperwork to all couples. Bunning said allowing her to defy the order would create a “ripple effect.”
“Her good-faith belief is simply not a viable defense,” he said. “Oaths mean things.”
Bunning said society relies virtually every day on people complying with court orders and that to allow otherwise would create a slippery slope. The court “cannot condone wilful disobedience,” he said. “If you give people opportunity to choose what orders they follow, that is what potentially causes problems.”
And yesterday, when Davis remained defiant, she was held in contempt and thrown in jail. All this has been causing such uproar on social media and the like, with liberals digging it out with the right-wingers.
And here’s what I actually wanted y’all to read – an absolutely fantastic, incredibly witty (depending on which side you’re on oh) piece penned by Dan Savage on his site, thestranger.com. It is titled ‘And Now I Have Something To Say About Kim Davis’, written in the days before the court battle came to a head yesterday. Check on it.
And Now I Have Something To Say About Kim Davis
I’ve pretty much ignored Kim Davis—save the odd tweet—since she first made the news for refusing to issue a marriage license to a gay couple. Davis is the clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, an elected position, and everyone from the governor of Kentucky to the U.S. Supreme Court has ordered Davis to comply with the post-Obergefell law-of-the-land and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Davis has refused because she’s a Christian, you see, and, as a Christian, she believes same-sex marriage to be sinful and unbiblical. Being forced to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples would violate her religious freedom, Davis insists, and lawyers from the odious rightwing Christian special rights group Liberty Counsel have stepped in to protect Davis from the horror of having to do her fucking job.
So, anyway, yesterday afternoon the Supreme Court ordered Davis to immediately start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This morning Davis refused to comply:
In a raucous scene in this little town, two same-sex couples walked into the Rowan County Courthouse, trailed by television cameras and chanting protesters on both sides of the issue, only to be turned away by the county clerk, Kim Davis. As one couple, David Ermold and David Moore, tried to engage her in an argument, Ms. Davis said several times that her office would not issue any marriage licenses. “Under whose authority?” Mr. Ermold asked. “Under God’s authority,” she replied.
Ms. Davis at first remained in her office with the blinds drawn, while a deputy clerk told Mr. Ermold and Mr. Moore and the other couple, April Miller and Karen Roberts, that no licenses would be issued Tuesday. But the two men began shouting for her to come out and confront them face to face. “Tell her to come out and face the people she’s discriminating against,” Mr. Ermold said. Ms. Davis emerged briefly, and asked them to leave.
Under God’s authority.
Davis and her supporters would like to see the “rule of law” replaced with “the rule of your imaginary friends.” The trouble with that, of course, is that people have very different ideas about who their imaginary friends are and what their imaginary friends think is sick, sinful, or icky. (Their imaginary friends, in fact, might not think much of your imaginary friends.) So empowering people—particularly public servants—to violate the rights of their fellow citizens based on the opinions of their various imaginary friends is an invitation to civic chaos.
I would say I can’t wait for a Muslim county clerk in, say, Dearborn, Michigan (which has a huge Muslim community), to refuse to issue a marriage license to a Christian couple on the grounds that the kafir couple hasn’t been paying jizya... but that’s not going to happen. Religious minorities in this country intuitively understand that to empower religious bigots like Davis is to paint bullseyes on their own backs. So the Jesus-freak goons at the Liberty Counsel work to frame discrimination as a “religious freedom” because they’re confident that American Christians will be the ones doing the discriminating, not suffering from it.
Anyway, I haven’t written much about Kim Davis because I knew how this was going to play out after Davis first made the news: Davis would continue to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, she would disobey multiple court orders, she would take it all the way to the Supreme Court, she would disobey the Supreme Court’s order, she would be charged with contempt, she would possibly wind up in prison and definitely wind up losing her job. Then she would “write” a book about her traumatic experiences—that book is doubtless being ghost-written for her already—and finally she’ll spend the rest of her life on the rightwing speaking circuit playing the persecuted Christian martyr lady. I saw it coming and I didn’t want to help build Davis up—I didn’t want to help cash in—but my efforts to ignore Davis didn’t slow her rise to fame. The events this morning in Rowan County have led the news summary on NPR all day and are currently the top story on the homepage of New York Times.
But no one is stating the obvious: this isn’t about Kim Davis standing up for her supposed principles—proof of that in a moment—it’s about Kim Davis cashing in. There’s a big pile of sweet, sweet bigot money out there waiting for her. If the owners of a pizza parlor could rake in a million dollars just by threatening not to cater the gay wedding no one asked them to cater… just imagine how much of that sweet, sweet bigot money Kim Davis is going to rake in. I’m sure Kim Davis is already imagining it.
And speaking of Kim Davis’ principles…
Davis released this statement shortly after defying the Supreme Court today:
“In addition to my desire to serve the people of Rowan County, I owe my life to Jesus Christ who loves me and gave His life for me…. 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. 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.”
Kim Davis has been divorced three times and married four times.
What’s that you say, Jesus H. Christ?
Some Pharisees came to Jesus to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
The opinions of Kim Davis’s imaginary friends matter very much when you want to get married… but not so much when Kim Davis wants to get married and divorced and married again and divorced again and married for a third time and divorced for a third time and married for a fourth time. (Mozel tov to you, Kim, and here’s hoping the fourth time in the charm.) Davis’s hypocrisy stinks to high holy heaven, as my mother might’ve said, but Davis has an answer for that: She started going back to church four years ago to honor the dying wish of her “godly mother-in-law” (her statement doesn’t indicate which of her four mothers-in-law was the godly one) and that’s when Jesus entered her heart and His magical mystery blood cleansed Davis of her sins—and how dare you bring up Davis’s own marital history when she’s just trying to do the Lord’s work down there in Kentucky interfering with the rights of other couples to create their own marital histories. (And speaking of marital histories: Has anyone gone down to the courthouse to look up Kim Davis’s own divorce records? Because in all fairness… if Davis was divorced for “sexual immorality” then all three of her divorces could’ve been “biblical,” I suppose.)
It’s a pretty neat trick: If I bring up Kim Davis’s four marriages, I’m being rude and mean-spirited and her first three marriages are in the past and she’s saved now and fuck you, gaywad. (That’s the reaction you get on Twitter when you mention Davis’s three divorces and four marriages.) But it’s not rude and mean-spirited for Kim Davis to tell same-sex couples that they’re sick and sinful and going to hell (opinions she’s free to hold) and to further prevent these couples from exercising their civil and secular right to wed (something Davis, as a public servant, is not free to do)—and somehow it’s not dangerous for the goons at Liberty Counsel cram this new and potentially destabilizing definition of “religious freedom” down all of our throats. (A pluralistic, multi-cultural, multi-denominational, multi-faith society where “them’s my religious beliefs!” is grounds for Americans discriminate against each other? That sounds like fun.)
I say this with sadness, I say this as the son of a preacher, I say this as a former seminarian: This pathetic bullshit is what passes for Christianity in America today. Thanks to the efforts of hate groups like the American Family Association, the Family Research Council (co-founded by a tortured closet case and lately the employer of a kid-diddling serial adulterer), the 700 Club, the Moral Majority, the National Organization for Marriage, the National Association of Evangelicals, etc., and the mousy, near-complicit silence of left-wing and progressive Christians, “Christian” is now synonymous with “anti-gay bigot.”
To be a good American Christian like Kim Davis—or a good Alaskan Christian like Bristol Palin—you don’t have to stay in your first marriage, you don’t have to stop sitting on the dicks of randos who aren’t your husband, you don’t have to deny marriage licenses to straight people who are remarrying or marrying outside the faith or obtaining marriage licenses for Godless secular marriages. Nope. You just have to hate the homos. Hate the homos and you’re right with the God of Tony Perkins and Josh Duggar, hate the homos and you’re good with American Jesus. (Toss in support for capital gains tax cuts and American Jesus loves you even more.) You don’t have to feed the sick, clothe the naked, house the homeless—you don’t have to do any of that shit Jesus actually talked about—you just have to hate the homos hard enough to go to jail for for your beliefs cash in on your bigotry.
UPDATE: Great piece on Kim Davis in the Detroit Free Press by my friend John Corvino…
In asking the court to grant Davis a religious exemption, her attorneys compared her to a conscientious objector being forced to go to war, for example, or an opponent of capital punishment being forced to participate in executions.
But these analogies fall flat. Unlike the conscientious objector, Davis is not being drafted into service against her will. She has chosen a job that requires her to grant licenses in accordance with civil law. She is no longer willing to do that. She should not expect to keep her job, any more than a military commander would keep his job if he became a pacifist, or a surgeon would keep her job if she became a Christian Scientist and refused to perform surgery. Religious liberty does not entitle the bearer to line-item vetoes for essential job functions.
Davis cites her Apostolic Christian faith to support the traditional definition of marriage as one man and one woman. But civil marriage and religious marriage, though historically intertwined, are not the same thing, and Davis’s job is to administer the law, not a sacrament.
Are there no hairdressers in Gilead?
UPDATE 4: God bless US News & World Report:
The Kentucky county clerk facing potentially stiff penalties for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses has been married four times, raising questions of hypocrisy and selective application of the Bible to her life. The marriages are documented in court records obtained by U.S. News, which show that Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis divorced three times, first in 1994, then 2006 and again in 2008. She gave birth to twins five months after divorcing her first husband. They were fathered by her third husband but adopted by her second. Davis worked at the clerk’s office at the time of each divorce and has since remarried.
Um… wait: Kim Davis got knocked up by her third husband shortly after divorcing her first husband got knocked up by her third husband before she divorced her first husband and somehow managed to talk her second husband into adopting the kids she had by the man who would eventually become her third husband… and she’s now on her fourth husband? The Hapsburg family tree is less complicated. But, hey, it all sounds perfectly biblical… or it would if we were talking about the Book of Mormon, it was 1890s, Kim Davis was a bearded man, and if Davis hadn’t divorced husbands number one, two, and three before marrying husband number four.
Gotta love this detail:
The leader of the organization providing her legal representation, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, says he’s not sure precisely how many husbands Davis has had, but that it’s not relevant. “I know she was married more than once—I’ve heard three [times],” he says. “It’s a matter of fact that she’s been married multiple times.” Staver says “it’s not really relevant, it’s something that happened in her past” and that her conversion to Christianity about four years ago wiped her slate clean. “It’s something that’s not relevant to the issue at hand.”
Kim Davis gave herself to Jesus and then Jesus sent Kim Davis a big bottle of magic Windex that allowed Kim Davis to wipe her soul clean. Fornication, adultery, divorce, remarriage—all wiped clean away! And we shouldn’t even be talking about Kim Davis’s four marriages and three divorces and who she was fucking and when she was fucking them because Kim has a bottle of the magic Windex and that renders her own sinful conduct irrelevant to the issue at hand—and that issue, again, is those gay sinners over there who want to get married for the first time.
Um, no. Sorry, Mat Staver, but Kim Davis made “biblical” and “sinful” relevant when she refused to do her job because her bible supposedly says this about same-sex couples and her bible says supposedly says that about county clerks.
UPDATE 5: And… scene.
Let’s all follow Kim’s example—we gotta keep those divorce lawyers and paternity-testing services busy.