The Not-So-Gay Divorceé

VIII. Adjustment.

The question of a divorceé has long plagued Christian supremacists who denounce marriage equality and gay rights, but, you know, really? Not only has Kim Davis already licensed transgender man and his pansexual wife, and most likely also issued plenty of marriage licenses to divorceés, but it also turns out that Ms. Davis is herself a serial adulterer.

On this point, Travis Gettys of Raw Story considers an appearance by Dan Savage on msnbc; the author, advice columnist, and editor of The Stranger, Mr. Savage spared no punches:

“I think Kim Davis is waiting to cash in,” Savage told MSNBC. “I predicted from the beginning that she would defy all the court orders, defy the Supreme Court, she would ultimately be held in contempt of court, lose her job, perhaps go to prison for a short amount of time. And then she will have written for her, ghost written books. She will go on the right-wing lecture circuit and she’ll never have to do an honest day’s work ever again in her life.”

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, in a mugshot, 3 September 2015, after being held in contempt of court by U.S. District Judge David Bunning, after she refused to comply with the law and issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.“This is about someone hypocritically cashing in, and she is a hypocrite,” he added.

Savage referred to the defiant clerk’s statement complaining that courts were asking her to “violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage” — which the columnist dismissed as ridiculous.

“This is a woman who’s been divorced three times and married four times,” he said, reading from the US News & World Report article that pointed out Davis “gave birth to twins five months after divorcing her first husband, (and) they were fathered by her third husband but adopted by her second husband.”

“She’s now onto her fourth husband,” Savage said. “Jesus Christ himself in scripture condemned divorce, called it adultery and forbids it. Jesus Christ himself in scripture says not one word about same-sex marriage.”

Savage said the U.S. Supreme Court had already decided the issue of same-sex marriage, and he said Davis clearly should have followed the law all along.

“She’s not being asked to perform a sacrament, she is tasked with ascertaining that the people in front of her, the couple in front of her, have a legal right to get married and to provide them with that license,” he said. “She is not a minister. She actually thinks she works for God there in the county courthouse, when she actually works for Caesar — and someone needs to acquaint her with that fact.”

Or we might attend Mr. Savage himself, who recently blogged, among other notes:

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 this 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.

This is an important point. Something about functional reality goes here.

Meanwhile, in Rowan County, Kentucky, gay couples celebrate the arrival of Love and Justice:

William Smith and James Yates obtained a marriage license in Rowan County from Deputy Clerk Brian Mason around 8:15 a.m. Friday ....

.... The couple said they were elated and overwhelmed to obtain their license, a day after Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses following the Supreme Court order allowing gay marriage.

Yates said that no one wanted Davis in jail, they just wanted her to provide the paperwork, and the couple didn’t expect to be first in line Friday.

“This means, at least for this area, that civil rights are civil rights,” he said. “We’re very happy.”

The couple had been at the heart of the fray, and now they move forward. But as Mike Wynn and Chris Kenning’s coverage of Day One in Rowan County, for the Louisville Courier-Journal, reminds, not all is love and happiness in Kentucky. Congratulations, also, to April Miller and Karen Roberts, who were third in line behind Tim and Michael Long. The Queer community today can only smile with the comfort of admiration for those who stood to fight in Rowan County; every little bit, you know, when it shouldn’t be needed at all. Thank you.

Still, though:

A second couple, Tim Long and Michael Long, obtained a marriage license from Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ office Friday morning.

As they got their license, two demonstrators inside the office called them “perverts.” Joe Davis, Kim Davis’ husband, muttered “disgrace” and walked out.

“Just turn your backs,” said one of the couple’s supporters. Those included a pair who came from Louisville to hand out flowers to clerks and couples.

Which brings us to a curious intersection. So as long as we’re here, we might look down that road about prior ceremonies and repetition, in order to acknowledge Jane Marquardt’s recollection of how she came to be married eight times. And, you know, since another road leads to Joe Davis, well, we might as well get that part out of the way. Simon McCormack brings us up to date:

The husband of a Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk who’s in jail because she refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples spoke out on his wife’s behalf Thursday.

“They have illegally put my wife in jail so we’re gonna ask [Kentucky Governor Steve] Beshear to do his job or step down,” Joe Davis said outside the Rowan County Courthouse.

We might simply note another occasion in which some people just can’t seem to tell the difference. In this case, there really isn’t anything Governor Beshear can do, unless one wishes to explain how he might override a federal court.

“We’ve had people running for president that knows more about the law than Bunning does,” Joe Davis said. “That’s sad that we have a judge that’s sitting behind the bench with a black robe on that don’t know the law.”

Bunning said he would keep Davis’ wife in jail until she complied with his order.

“They’re not gonna let her out and she’s not gonna bow,” Davis said. “I promise you that.”

It is unclear just what, short of Kim Davis’ resignation or simple agreement to abide by and enforce the law, will resolve the issue. This is a cheap attempt at martyrdom, and untenable under Christ. Therein lies a powerful irony; we do not oblige assertions of Christian faith and conscience to actually reflect Christianity.

To that end, Chris Boeskool wades ankle-deep into the question, and even from there it’s easy enough to see the point:

It is not religious persecution to tell a person she is not allowed to persecute whole groups of people just because she (mistakenly or otherwise) believes that her religion calls for that persecution. This is the same mentality of the people who are opposing anti-bullying legislation on the grounds that they believe they should be allowed to bully gay kids as a part of the Christian expression of their beliefs.

And, for the record, this isn’t hard to see. Indeed, it should be obvious at the dip of a toe. But getting knee-deep involves slinging around actual verses and, you know, the words of Jesus; and diving in requires actually having some sort of asserted faith structure to actually address. This structure is entirely absent in the asserted religious freedom of the Christian conscience to discriminate against homosexuals in the public square. As things stand, it would seem this is simply the latest iteration of that inchoate faith reflecting whatever best serves the eye of the beholder. And if we closely attend what these faithful Christians are saying, it would seem Jesus Christ himself is absent from their argument. And, yes, there would be a reason for that.

To the one, neuroses are human. To the other, desire for earthly empowerment is also human. And when the desire for earthly empowerment runs up against an asserted transcendent faith, the temptation is obvious: The truth remains unacknowledged because it would trump the earthly desire; this constitutes an actual betrayal of the transcendent faith, which itself must struggle for acknowledgment. The resulting neurotic tension and eventual rupture can look, actually, something like we see from the general Christian supremacist reaction to marriage equality.

There is a reason Jesus Christ is absent in Kim Davis’ expression of faith. All she wants is God’s judgment for her own hands; she does not trust in His Will. And, yes, that kind of faithless void in one’s perceived soul could certainly exert tremendous gravity in the neurotic tension between spiritual transcendence and earthly desire. Thus, yes, it is easy enough to imagine Kim Davis carrying on this martyr routine until the end of her elected term in January 2019.

Then again, she’s also a Kentucky Democrat. There’s a punch line in there somewhere, we can rest certain. That is to say, a good punch line. And, for the record, the Party is keeping pretty quiet on this issue; this is understandable. Then again, we might also wonder how long they can keep that up.

It would be one thing to suggest, ominiously, Something is about to happen. It would also be more realistic to acknowledge that it already is. But here we tread a fine line: There is no faith structure to comprehend; apocalyptic warmongering swirlsα; even a presidential candidate can be heard advocating a right to insurrection; now we have before us a determined martyr with neither a clue nor grain of moral ground to stand on. With a farce like this, what could possibly go wrong?

To the other, there really isn’t anything else Judge Bunning could do, and while Jim Davis bitterly looks to Gov. Steve Beshear as if to make some kind of point, one wonders if the legislature has any recourse, or if this is left to the people and their recall devices, in which case, well, the issue of law is pretty clear here, and the functional reality is that what Kim Davis wants is impossible. Still, watch the Republican presidential candidates, including the insurrectionist Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) complaining of a “war on faith”, line up behind the jailed Rowan County Clerk; only Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC) and former HP chief Carly Fiorina would dispute with Kim Davis.

Hardline conservatives keep looking for their flashpoint; Kim Davis would do her part to be just that. This is a stupid and self-denigrating crusade she has undertaken, though Dan Savage is mostly correct that, when the jail time and her career are over, she will have a cultish community waiting to welcome and celebrate her in perpetual dysfunction. And, frankly, for one as stupid as Kim Davis, there are worse fates. Like, you know, dealing with reality.


α We have discussed some of this before; James Dobson in April, Michelle Bachmann something like a week later; Rick Santorum going on about the horrifying spectre of living “in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists” only a few days after that; in June, we heard Southern Baptist Convention President, Rev. Ronnie Floyd invoking “spiritual warfare”; nobody is quite certain what Pat Robertson is up to, what with all the fearmongering and the bit about re-education camps. The rhetoric is, to say the least, volatile, and as we know, volatile conservative rhetoric can be dangerous enough that we might be uncertain just how much of this can simply be shaken off with chuckle and grin.

Image note: Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, in a mugshot, 3 September 2015, after being held in contempt of court by U.S. District Judge David Bunning, after she refused to comply with the law and issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.

Benen, Steve. “Leading Republicans differ over armed ‘insurrection'”. 17 April 2015.

Boeskool, Chris. “4 Reasons―From A Christian Perspective―Why Kim Davis Is 100% Wrong”. The Huffington Post. 3 September 2015.

Gettys, Travis. “Dan Savage destroys thrice-divorced Kim Davis: ‘This is about someone hypocritically cashing in'”. Raw Story. 2 September 2015.

Israel, Josh. “Only 2 Republican Candidates Think Kim Davis Needs To Quit Or Follow The Law”. ThinkProgress. 3 September 2015.

Marquardt, Jane. “Here’s Why I’ve Been Married 8 Times”. The Huffington Post. 29 August 2015.

McCormack, Simon. “Kentucky Clerk’s Husband Says His Wife Is ‘Not Gonna Bow'”. The Huffington Post. 4 September 2015.

Savage, Dan. “And Now I Have to Say Something About Kim Davis “. Slog. 1 September 2015.

Wynn, Mike and Chris Kenning. “Gay couples get licenses, called ‘perverts'”. The Courier-Journal. 4 September 2015.

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