Christian hypocrisy

A Note on Family Values in Michigan

Michigan state Reps. Todd Courser (R-82) and Cindy Gamrat (R-80); the two Tea Party, Christian conservative Republicans confessed to an extramarital affair after audio recordings emerged in which Mr. Courser attempted to create a false smear campaign accusing himself of patronizing a gay prostitute in Lansing.

Yeah, that’s going to happen:

Two Michigan lawmakers who were forced from office over an extramarital affair and a convoluted cover-up scheme lost longshot bids Tuesday to win back their seats.

Tea party leaders Todd Courser, who resigned rather than be expelled, and Cindy Gamrat, who was kicked out, sought the Republican nominations in special primary elections, which came less than two months after their Sept. 11 ouster.

(Eggert)

The report from Associated Press also notes the tally; Mr. Courser, who failed to mastermind a scheme to discredit himself with a false story involving a nonexistent gay prostitute and a Lansing nightclub, drew four percent of the vote. That is to say, four hundred fifteen voters in Michigan wanted to send his hypocritical, lying family values back to the legislature. Mrs. Gamrat, by comparison, got nine percent in her district; nine hundred twelve voters want to reward her adulterous family values.

To the other, it’s not a fair indictment of family values in Michigan. Some values voters in those districts got the hint. And, besides, there are plenty of other reasons to indict values voters in Michigan; staining the lot of them with these two disgraces unto God and humanity alike is just piling on.

David Eggert continues his AP report:

“I told the voters they should have the opportunity to decide,” Courser told WWJ-AM. He said he could not overcome the “political headwinds,” which “were unlike anything I’d ever experienced.”

An emotional Gamrat told reporters that regardless of what voters heard or believed, “I worked really hard for them when I was there” in Lansing. “It was a tremendous honor to serve. … My infidelity was wrong, but I don’t think it warranted and merited the maligning of my character that I had on me and my family day after day in the news.”

It really is hard to feel sorry for someone who feels her character is maligned by her own awful hypocrisy. Look, ordinarily adultery is left to the people doing it. I really don’t care if Mr. Courser or Mrs. Gamrat cheat on their spouses. I really don’t care, except perhaps in that abstract way that such things aren’t healthy for the society, if these family-values Christians betray their children.

Except that’s the thing. They are family-values Christians who have denigrated and maligned many along the way in their quest to harm others in Jesus’ name. So, yes, Mrs. Gamrat would wisely better bet her critics are enjoying the hell out of themselves watching her flail cluelessly.

That she and her Mr. Courser are disgraces unto God is between them and God, except for the fact that they made it between them and the rest of Michigan and the nation, as well.

And then they decided to go and give it another try.

Mrs. Gamrat, especially, would be wise to remember that every time she tries to play herself off as some sort of victim someone, somewhere will haul out this pillory. And, really, the adultery wouldn’t matter to some of us at all, except that they asked it should.

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Eggert, David. “2 disgraced Michigan lawmakers lose bids to win old seats”. Daily Camera. 4 November 2015.

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Another One

Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville) takes the oath of office during Organization Day at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Tuesday, 18 November 2014. (AP Photo/A.J. Mast)

So …

Indiana House Majority Leader Jud McMillin, a cosponsor of the state’s controversial “religious freedom” law resigned his seat abruptly Tuesday, after a sexually explicit video starring the representative was sent via text message from McMillin’s cell phone. The Indianapolis Star reported it is unclear who sent the text or how broadly it was distributed.

This is the second time McMillin has resigned from a job over sexual misconduct allegations.

McMillin was a rising star in Indiana Republican politics, a conservative who also spoke out against marriage equality, opposes nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people, and coauthored legislation to prevent an LGBT youth group from obtaining a specialty license plate. In a prepared statement released yesterday, McMillin said the “time is right for me to pass the torch and spend more time with my family.”

(Browning)

… what, really, is anyone supposed to say?

Here’s another paragraph about this paragon of Indiana virtue:

In 2011, a Bilerico Project expose on the lawmaker highlighted McMillin’s past brushes with the law and allegations of sexual impropriety. The site reported that McMillin had faced petty theft allegations, vehicular homicide charges, and was forced to resign a job as a deputy prosecutor after a domestic violence victim claimed he forced her to press charges against her will and coerced her into a sexual relationship. Court filings in the victim’s subsequent lawsuit against for the former prosecutor show McMillin sent her incredibly graphic sexually explicit photographs from his phone and was caught having sex with her in a state park.

This is a guy who Indiana Christians rallied behind, because, you know, he said he would “protect the institution of marriage”.

Now that we understand a bit more about what that actually means, can any of us really say we are surprised?

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Image note: Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville) takes the oath of office during Organization Day at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Tuesday, 18 November 2014. (AP Photo/A.J. Mast)

Browning, Bil. “Antigay Indiana Lawmaker Resigns After Sex Tape Text”. The Advocate. 30 September 2015.

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.

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The Point: Supremacy ≠ Equality

Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis shows emotion as she is cheered by a gathering of supporters during a rally on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky, Saturday, 22 August 2015. Davis spoke at the rally organized by The Family Foundation of Kentucky. The crowd of a few thousand included churchgoers from around the state. Davis has been sued by the American Civil Liberties Union for denying marriage licenses to gay couples. She says her Christian faith prohibits her from signing licenses for same-sex couples. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Yesterday, Brian Beutler laid out a case for why Kim Davis should face jail for contempt of court; the article for The New Republic recalled:

What was rendered as a call for pluralism, though, was really a counterbid to keep the old formula: when disputes arise between same-sex couples and religious people like ourselves, the state should side with us.

Today, Ms. Davis, the Clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, was ordered to jail by U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning; Steve Benen reminds, for msnbc:

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.

This is important. But what neither Beutler nor Benen ever quite cut to―indeed, the larger discourse seems to avoid―is the basic functional reality. And perhaps there is a reason for this, but it comes down to something like we shouldn’t have to spell it out so simply, which is clearly insufficient since this really is the moment, and really is the argument.

Equality is equality. Functionally speaking, what Ms. Davis demands is that her “equality” requires her “superiority” and others’ “inferiority”. In theology, one of the practical limitations of God is inherent contradiction; even the Almighty cannot, by the classic example, fashion a square circle.

By definition, supremacy is not equality.

The functional reality that these Christian conservatives need to deal with is that equality is equality. This has been going on for a long time. As we have considered of Ms. Davis, the underlying device is the same as the library book argument. It’s also the same one we heard about pop music in the 1980s; the one that brought us the little black and white warning labels on heavy metal and rap albums. It is a traditional plea of the privileged, that another’s rights stop at the convenience or inconvenience of the privileged; one’s rights are violated as long as another’s are intact.

This is the functional reality: All Ms. Davis is asking is that her equality allow her supremacy.

So whatever one might say in rejoinder to Mr. Benen’s reminder, Mr. Beutler’s recollection of recent history is accurate:

Back before the Supreme Court found a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, when it became clear that same-sex marriage would one day be the law of the land in most, if not all states, conservative culture warriors abruptly changed tacks. After organizing for years around the notion that states and the federal government should refuse to recognize same-sex marriages, they decided the time had come for everyone to be accommodating to one another—as if liberals were suddenly making unfair demands.

But liberals were doing no such thing. For generations, when disputes rooted in discrimination against gays and lesbians arose between parties, governments would generally side with discriminators. Liberals were simply demanding that moving forward, the presumption should be turned on its head—beginning with the states themselves, a great many of which refused to recognize same-sex marriages.

Conservatives responded by issuing pleas for mercy, and embraced the concept of pluralism, to wield as a cudgel against gay rights activists. Same-sex marriage might prevail legally and politically, but opponents should not thenceforth be treated like bigots or pariahs or scofflaws.

What was rendered as a call for pluralism, though, was really a counterbid to keep the old formula: when disputes arise between same-sex couples and religious people like ourselves, the state should side with us.

Thus it is worth reminding explicitly: What he is describing is the old formula of supremacism: In order to be equal, Ms. Davis and other Christians should be able to demand and enforce inequality unto others.

Whatever anyone else tells you about freedom and conscience, simply remember that functionally speaking, supremacy and equality simply are not the same, and cannot be reconciled as such. Kim Davis is about to become a martyr and legend; let us always remember why.

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Image note: Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis shows emotion as she is cheered by a gathering of supporters during a rally on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky, Saturday, 22 August 2015. Davis spoke at the rally organized by The Family Foundation of Kentucky. The crowd of a few thousand included churchgoers from around the state. Davis has been sued by the American Civil Liberties Union for denying marriage licenses to gay couples. She says her Christian faith prohibits her from signing licenses for same-sex couples. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Benen, Steve. “Kentucky’s Kim Davis jailed, held in contempt”. msnbc. 3 September 2015.

Beutler, Brian. “Throw Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis in Jail”. The New Republic. 2 September 2015.

The Supremacist’s Lament

Zombie Republic: The Demon Sisters cope with the results of their plan.  (Detail of frame from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, episode 8, '… Of the Dead')

“Public officials are ministers of God assigned the duty of punishing the wicked and protecting the righteous.”

Win Johnson

The disgraceful derby scrambling in the wake of Obergefell has yet to settle out; with presidential candidates struggling to find ways to evade the U.S. Constitution, or taking up the notion of just calling the whole marriage thing off, an Alabama attorney named Win Johnson has appealed to Gov. Robert Bentley (R) to opt out of the U.S. Constitution. Mr. Johnson, for his part, is a state official, a director at the Administrative Office of Courts, which in turn oversees the courts for state Chief Justice Roy Moore.

It seems a striking letter; Charles J. Dean reported, for AL.com:

In harsh words and a lecturing tone, a lawyer who works for Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has written a letter seemingly directed at Gov. Robert Bentley rebuking him for saying Alabama will obey the U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring same-sex marriage legal.

More appropriately, it really is a striking letter, so wild-eyed and seemingly irresponsible that the Souther Poverty Law Center has called for Johnson’s resignation.

And let us be clear; part of the problem with excerpting the letter is that the whole thing really is a show and a half. Christian supremacism, abdication of duty, rejection of the Constitution, and hey, even a Godwin violation just to hit for the cycle. Again, let us be clear: All for hatred in Jesus’ name, amen.

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