Kim Davis

Nearly on Cue

Lebanon dispenses wisdom and confidence. (Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 4, 'The Ark Adrift on the Lake ...')

“I am opposed to gay marriages on religious grounds, and my conscience will not allow me to sign off on marriage certificates for gay couples. People should not have to violate their conscience to run or to serve.”

Mayor Sharon Valentine-Thomas (R-PA, Pottstown)

Why do I have a song stuck in my head?

Just a couple fuckin’ more weeks to go! I wanna be Kim Davis! Nothin’ to do but be an asshole! I wanna be Kim Davis!

Mayor Sharon Valentine-Thomas (R-PA/Pottstown), in undated file photo from Digital First Media.That ain’t right.

Right?

Never mind.

Evan Brandt, for The Times Herald:

Statements by Pottstown Mayor Sharon Thomas in the usually sleepy race for register of wills have once again put Montgomery County in the spotlight in Pennsylvania’s debate about same sex marriage.

Thomas, a Republican, told The Intelligencer newspaper that she will not personally issue any same sex marriage licenses if she wins the race against incumbent Democrat D. Bruce Hanes.

Instead, as in the now-famous case of Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who spent five days in jail after defying a court order to issue same-sex licenses, Thomas said she will seek court permission to allow the licenses to be issued by a subordinate.

“I am opposed to gay marriages on religious grounds, and my conscience will not allow me to sign off on marriage certificates for gay couples,” Thomas, an ordained minister who is serving her second nonconsecutive term as Pottstown’s mayor, told The Intelligencer. “People should not have to violate their conscience to run or to serve.”

Thomas said, “I am not an obstructionist and will not force my values on others.”

There is a joke about Republicans and the idea that government does not or cannot work; why would anybody hire the applicant who says that about a job? In the twenty-first century, however, we need not be surprised that the punch line becomes a real campaign plank. That is to say, it’s kind of a one-turn maze; the punch line exists because it is reliable enough. To the other, this is something of an escalation.

(more…)

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The House Freedom Caucus (Feature the Bug Bass Beat Mix)

U.S. Capitol building at dusk on a winter's eve. (Photo credit: Peterson)

Here is a strange proposition: The Trump effect, currently plaguing the 2016 GOP presidential nomination contest, is a feature, not a bug.

While the notion of sucking up all the oxygen is certainly evident as Republican candidates struggle for breath, consider for a moment that there is also a Democratic contest afoot. To the other, all we really hear about it is a string of scandal stories about Hillary Clinton, and how many people turn out for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

And, of course, any time we might lead with a joke like, What do Kim Davis and Donald Trump have in common? we might rest assured that our uneasiness is genuine because things really have gotten that far out of hand.

The question of the hour:

Barring a historic meltdown, Republicans will select Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to be their nominee for speaker Thursday. But does that mean McCarthy will get 218 votes in the House floor vote on Oct. 29?

(Fuller)

Meanwhile, House Democrats aren’t exactly sitting back and watching, but nobody should feel badly for thinking otherwise. There is plenty of intrigue to go around, but the drama in the House of Representatives is exclusively Republican.

(more…)

Pretty Much What We Expect, Except It Is Unkind to Hold Such Expectations

Can we just admit that there is nothing “Christian” about Kim Davis?

At last week’s Values Voter Summit, Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel displayed a picture that he claimed showed a 100,000-person prayer in Peru for his client, Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis. That picture has since been identified as having been uploaded to Facebook on May 25, 2014 and portraying a massive one-of-a-kind five-day convention known as “Jesús Te Ama Y Te Cambia” (“Jesus Loves You And Changes You”).

After spending Monday defending the photo, Liberty Counsel has admitted that it is not of a Kim Davis rally. In fact, they no longer claim that any rally whatsoever took place for Davis in Peru, but merely that some people in Peru prayed for her.

(Ford)

There are, of course, all manner of complicating details; Mr. Staver and Liberty Counsel would like to blame the lie on Julio Rosas, a Peruvian Congressman.

Though Staver called the photograph “an honest mistake,” he insisted that people still give Davis a thumbs-up everywhere she goes. “Make no mistake, however, that there is widespread support for Kim Davis. Last week she was recognized by many people as she walked through the Philadelphia, New York LaGuardia, and Washington, D.C. Reagan airports. People gave her a thumbs up sign or verbally expressed support for Kim Davis. While she has obvious detractors, Kim Davis also has wide support.”

Detail of 'Lucifer' by Franz von Stuck, ca. 1890.Yes, such wide support that Liberty Counsel needs to make stuff up while their client receives a newly-invented award intended to celebrate bigotry and supremacism in America.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is Jesus Christ.

Oh, wait, right. No, it’s not. Because no matter how much Kim Davis wants you to believe she is a Christian, remember that Christ himself is absent from her hatred.

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Image notes: Top ― Christian supremacist icon and Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis receives the “Cost of Discipleship Award” at the Family Research Council Action’s Values Voter Summit, 25 September 2015, in Washington, D. C. Right ― Detail of Lucifer by Franz von Stuck, ca. 1890.

Ford, Zack. “Kim Davis’ Attorneys Finally Admit This Picture Is A Hoax”. ThinkProgress. 29 September 2015.

An Unfortunate Update (Dubious Hero)

Rowan County Clerk and infamous Christian supremacism icon Kim Davis receives the "Cost of Discipleship Award" at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., 25 Septemer 2015.  (Photo: Jonathan Swan/The Hill)

“And Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He replied, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many’.”

Mark 5.9 (RSV)

Kim Davis is the sort of memory we might wish to let fade. The embittered Rowan County Clerk went so far this week as to honor the Kentucky Democratic Party by switching her registration to Republican; meanwhile, conservatives celebrated her cause:

Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who became a hero to conservatives after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was compared to Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks as she was awarded a prize by a prominent Christian organization Friday evening.

Dabbing her eyes with a tissue and with a trembling voice, Davis told hundreds of evangelical Christians: “I feel so very undeserving.”

“I want to start by thanking my lord and my savior Jesus Christ, because without him it would never be possible, for he is my strength that carries me,” Davis said.

“I am only one,” she shouted to be heard above the cheering crowd. “But we are many.”

(Swan)

And while there are ironies aplenty, and some even sickening, about all that, the carryout point here is simple enough. I can still remember, in youth, a classmate earnestly trying to explain to me how we all had it wrong and the KKK was a misunderstood guardian of society and something about why Dr. King was a terrible person, and what strikes me about that recollection is that one could push such garbage unimpeded. In a day when feminsim is so (ahem!) “unflattering” as to require schoolhouse censorship, and Christians expel girls from school for not being girlish enough, we might understand why conservatives would wish to elevate a supremacist as some sort of civil rights hero, but it is also hard to imagine they might actually get away with it.

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Image note: Rowan County Clerk and infamous Christian supremacism icon Kim Davis receives the “Cost of Discipleship Award” at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., 25 Septemer 2015. (Photo: Jonathan Swan/The Hill)

Richardson, Bradford. “Kim Davis switches to GOP”. The Hill. 25 September 2015.

Swan, Jonathan. “Christian group honors Kim Davis with award”. The Hil. 25 September 2015.

Warren, Rosalyn. “A School Blurred Out This Girl’s Feminist T-Shirt Because It Was ‘Unflattering'”. BuzzFeed. 17 April 2015.

Just Another Day (Mad Mat Mix)

Kim Davis and Friends: Detail of cartoon by Kevin Siers, The Charlotte Observer, 10 September 2015.

Here is a question: What do Kim Davis and Donald Trump have in common? Before you reach for a punch line, I should note it’s not actually that kind of a setup. In truth, it is hard to follow either story, because it is difficult, to the one, to comprehend the full dimensions of what is actually happening, and to the other that it happens so damn fast. Either absurdist tragedy leaves us breathless trying to keep up.

For instance, adding the Oath Keepers to the mix probably isn’t any specific reason to be alarmed, but still, it can’t be good news.

In a phone call with Jackson County Kentucky Sheriff Denny Peyman, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes said members of his group had reached out to Davis’s legal team and were already forming an on-the-ground presence in Kentucky’s Rowan County, but remained tight-lipped on specifics, Right Wing Watch reports. Rhodes said his group’s action had nothing to do with same-sex marriage, but instead was focused on his belief that Davis had been illegally detained after being found in contempt of court by not issuing marriage licenses.

“As far as we’re concerned, this is not over,” he said in the audio clip above. “This judge needs to be put on notice that his behavior is not going to be accepted, and we’ll be there to stop it and intercede ourselves if we have to.”

(Wong)

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The Ted Cruz Show (Oh Yeah, That Guy)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), left, with Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis  and huband Joe Davis, 8 September 2015, after the infamous religious supremacist was released from jail.  Ms. Davis, a Democrat, is of interest to Mr. Cruz's presidential campaign because she was jailed on a contempt of court order after refusing to issue marriage licenses because her ad hoc Christian faith prohibits her from doing her job.  Detail of photo via Twitter, @TedCruz.

This ought to be interesting.

David BartonDavid Barton, a champion of promoting faith in public life, is an author and activist, and well-known in conservative donor circles. He will be running Keep the Promise PAC, one of a cluster of super PACs that together raised $38 million so far to aid Cruz.

(Glueck)

Proverbially so.

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Image notes: Top ― Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), left, with Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and huband Joe Davis, 8 September 2015, after the infamous religious supremacist was released from jail. Ms. Davis, a Democrat, drew Republican presidential candidates to her thrall while jailed for contempt of court after refusing to issue marriage licenses because her ad hoc Christian faith prohibits her from doing her job. (Detail of photo via Twitter, @TedCruz. Right ― Controversial political author David Barton, in undated photo.)

Glueck, Katie. “Prominent evangelical taking over pro-Cruz super PAC”. Politico. 9 September 2015.

Beyond Ridiculous

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis is escorted from jail to a waiting crowd by Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver (right) and other lawyers from the Falwell Ministry-affiliated legal firm, in Grayson, Kentucky, Tuesday, 8 September 2015, after U.S. District Judge David Bunning lifted his contempt order. Ms. Davis' husband, Joe Davis, follows at rear. (Image via CNN)

This is not exactly unexpected:

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis walked out of a Kentucky detention center to massive applause Tuesday after spending five days behind bars for defying a federal order that she issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But her 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, from where she emerged Tuesday afternoon alongside her attorney, Mat Staver, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who was hosting a rally in her honor. Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor, told reporters outside the detention center he’d be willing to go to jail in her place should a federal judge find she’s violated the conditions of her release.

Bunning said in his order Tuesday that Davis “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 Staver suggested such interference was likely.

“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.”

(Margolin)

Some questions for the office pool: Will it take days before Kim Davis lands herself in jail, or mere hours? How, exactly, can she interfere? Hide all the license forms in her safe? Cut the printer cables? Sabotage the network? Physically preclude her deputies from doing their jobs? Fire them for doing their jobs? No, really, how is this going to go?

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The Difference

VIII. Adjustment.

Michael Gerson, for the Washington Post:

Whatever their intentions, these people are doing great harm to the cause of religious liberty and to the reputation of their faith. Davis’s defiance is the wrong test case for the protection of religious freedom.

The Supreme Court’s far-reaching Obergefell decision legalizing gay marriage will have radiating consequences for people who hold traditional moral views on marriage and family. Some challenges will concern religious institutions — colleges, social service providers, aid organizations — that interact in various ways with government. Other controversies will concern the ability of closely held businesses to refrain from providing services.

But there is no serious case to be made for the right of public officials to break laws they don’t agree with, even for religious reasons. This is, in essence, seizing power from our system of laws and courts.

The punch line, of course, is that, “They can’t tell the difference”, but such niceties fail to suit Mr. Gerson’s purpose, and it is worth attending.

Mr. Gerson recalls politics and presentation and process, but one particular requires reminding: What Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights movement sought was an end to institutional supremacism; what Kim Davis demands is nothing more than institutional supremacism.

In the end, this point should never escape our awareness.

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Gerson, Michael. “Kim Davis is no Rosa Parks”. The Washington Post. 7 September 2015.

Liberty Counsel

Liberty Counsel

Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch put together a brief list―and thank him, since that means you don’t have to do it yourself―of strange arguments offered in support of Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who asserts her ad hoc religion entitles her, as an equally protected constitutional right, to decide who is entitled to their equally protected constitutional rights.

The list itself is pretty straightforward except for its unbelievability; yet here we are, and this is real:

(1) God’s law trumps U.S. law

(2) Davis was elected before Obergefell, so she’s exempt

(3) Davis is the only clerk obeying the law

(4) Gays can just drive to another county

(5) Anti-religious test for office

While it is true that these are all nonsensical, we might take a moment to consider that first, reminding of two points: Insurrection and bad attorneys.

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Another Obvious Question (House Divided Hot Mess Mix)

Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk of Courts, listens to Robbie Blankenship and Jesse Cruz as they speak with her at the County Clerks Office on September 2, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. (Photo: Ty Wright/Getty Images)

Let us start here:

Importantly, Davis is not claiming a substantial burden on her religious freedom or free speech rights if someone else authorizes and approves a SSM license devoid of her name.

(Mihet and Christman [Liberty Counsel], 28 August 2015; accents per source)

Follow the bouncing ball:

“The stay request offers several options such as removing Davis’s name from the marriage license, thus removing the personal nature of the authorization,” Staver pointed out. “Another accommodation would be to allow licenses to be issued by the chief executive of Rowan County or developing a statewide, online marriage license process,” Staver suggested. “There is absolutely no reason that this case has gone so far without reasonable people respecting and accommodating Kim Davis’s First Amendment rights,” Staver concluded.

(Liberty Counsel, 31 August 2015; boldface accent added)

And then came Friday:

Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel which represents Davis, said he believes Friday’s licenses are invalid because they were not issued with her approval. Davis’ name does not appear on the licenses.

“They are not worth the paper they are printed on,” Staver said, standing in front of the Grayson, Kentucky, detention center where Davis is being held. He added she had no intention of resigning as clerk.

(Bittenbender; boldface accent added)

Would any among Ms. Davis’ defenders care to attempt reconciling, or at least merely explaining that sleight? This much is true: We don’t expect Mr. Staver, nor his colleagues, Messrs. Christman and Himet, to do so. Indeed, we might wonder if they would find demands for such an explanation offensive to their religious freedom.

To be clear, because some need it so expressed:

If Kim Davis’ name was not on the marriage licenses, then the “personal nature of the authorization” would be removed. (Liberty Counsel, 28-31 August)

If the licenses were issued without Ms. Davis’ name on them, then they are “not worth the paper they are printed on” because Ms. Davis has not given authorization of a personal nature.

In the end, Mark Joseph Stern’s question of whether Kim Davis is “getting taken for a ride by her lawyers”, as the headline put it, asserts itself more insistently.

More and more, it’s beginning to look like the Liberty Counsel is taking Davis for a ride, using her doomed case to promote itself and its extremist principles. Davis has certainly humiliated and degraded the gay couples whom she turned away. But I wonder if, on some level, she isn’t a victim, too.

(Boldface accent added)

I mean, really.

This is a sick joke playing out before our eyes.

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Image note: Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk of Courts, listens to Robbie Blankenship and Jesse Cruz as they speak with her at the County Clerks Office on September 2, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. (Photo: Ty Wright/Getty Images)

(Tip o’ the hat I don’t actually wear: JoeMyGod)

Mihet, Horatio G. and Jonathan D. Christman. “Emergency Application to Stay Preliminary Injunction Pending Appeal”. Davis v. Miller et al. Supreme Court of the United States. 28 August 2015.

Liberty Counsel. “Accommodations Would End Rowan County Dispute”. Press Release. 31 August 2015.

Bittenbender, Steve. “Kentucky clerk’s office ends ban on same-sex marriage licenses”. Reuters. 4 September 2015.

Stern, Mark Joseph. “Is Kentucky’s Infamous Anti-Gay Clerk Getting Taken for a Ride by Her Lawyers?”. Slate. 31 August 2015.