marriage license

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?

(more…)

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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.

An Obvious Question (Mix A Mat)

Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel.

There comes a point when we really must revisit Mark Joseph Stern’s point last week for Slate:

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.

Think of it this way: Mat Staver has been on an eleven year losing streak. Think about that for a moment; his old claim to fame is a Pledge of Allegiance case, but in the question of Christians having the right to decide who else gets rights, he has been exactly the loser he sounds like for over a decade. Something about track record goes here.

We might also recall, more recently, Mr. Staver’s pledge to defend marriage, which was rooted in the same assertion of religious supremacism and comparisons to historical victims we hear now. Of late, though, he has ratcheted up the hatred:

With Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis jailed for refusing to follow the orders of U.S. District Judge David Bunning, her deputies issued a marriage license to James Yates and William Smith on Friday. The couple had previously been denied five times.Liberty Counsel

However, 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)

At this point, it seems a pretty straightforward question: Is Mr. Staver really so cruel and desperately determined to disrupt and denigrate other people’s marriages, or is he just that bad of a lawyer?

Sigh. Nothing says it can’t be both.

Think about it, though; not only does he assert that his client need not follow the law, now he claims she can prevent others from following the law.

This is what “family values” culture comes to?

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

Holland, Gina. “Court declines gay marriage case”. The Herald-Tribune. 29 November 2004.

Michelson, Noah. “Kim Davis’ Attorney Compares Her To Jews Living In Nazi Germany, Invokes Images Of Gas Chambers”. The Huffington Post. 5 September 2015.

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

Steve Beshear’s Headache

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear speaks during a press conference after a closed joint whip and caucus meeting on the Affordable Care Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, 5 December 2013. (Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty)

Meanwhile, in the Bluegrass State:

David V. Moore and his fiancé went to the Rowan County Clerk’s office, armed with a copy of that Supreme Court ruling, in addition to Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s executive order requiring all county clerks to issue marriage licenses. In the video, employees appear to ignore the legal documents provided, continuing to refuse the couple’s request for a marriage license, while the Clerk Davis hid in the back of the office.

Writing on his Facebook wall, Moore says, “We were denied a marriage license on Monday, July 6 at the Rowan County Clerk’s office. Kim Davis is at the end of the video, but we turned it off at her request.”

The recording shows the men entering the clerk’s office and waiting patiently while other residents — including people who came in after the couple — are served. Staff at the counter refuse the men’s request and tell them that Clerk Davis is “busy right now.” Then employees called the police, insisting that the couple’s supporters stop filming the anticipated rejection.

A police officer arrives at the office toward the end of the video and speaks with employees. When Clerk Davis finally emerges from her office (around the 11 minute mark), she tells the supporter to “Put your phone away.” The two continue to bicker for a moment before the video ends.

Kentucky law does not forbid filming any interactions with public officials in a public place.

(Browning)

Oh, and you know there’s more.

(more…)

The Bobby Jindal Show (Fun Time Sneak Leak Preview)

Republican Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's forum in Waukee, Iowa, April 25, 2015. (Photo by Jim Young/Reuters)

“If we want to save some money, let’s just get rid of the court.”

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA)

Sometimes the question of where to start is not so easily resolved. The essential point to remember is that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, perhaps hoping to impress conservative voters as he prepares a 2016 Republican presidential nomination bid, has seemingly run out of room to maneuver against marriage equality. Yesterday’s ruling in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals was the third, and yet Mr. Jindal still desperately seeks to delay:

But while Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration previously had said it was waiting on that 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling before recognizing same-sex marriages, top state officials dug in their heels Wednesday and said they wouldn’t change course until a district court orders them to do so.

That only widens the gap between the administration and the reality on the ground across the state. Clerks or other officials in nearly all parishes have now said they will issue licenses to same-sex couples, even as Jindal administration officials continue to tell state agencies to hold off on accepting them as valid.

The administration’s delay in accepting the Supreme Court’s ruling may be behind another point of conflict that cropped up on Wednesday as members of newly married same-sex couples seeking to change the name on their driver’s licenses to reflect their union found their efforts thwarted by the Office of Motor Vehicles.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit appeared to address the administration’s stalling.

The Supreme Court’s ruling is “the law of the land and, consequently, the law of this circuit and should not be taken lightly by actors within the jurisdiction of this court,” the ruling said.

“We express no view on how controversies involving the intersection of these rights should be resolved but instead leave that to the robust operation of our system of laws and the good faith of those who are impacted by them.”

The panel then ordered district judges who have overseen cases involving same-sex marriage, including U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans, to issue final judgments in their cases legalizing and recognizing same-sex marriage by July 17.

Normally that ruling, and any judgments that come from the lower courts, would be largely procedural measures now that the Supreme Court has decided the issue. And, indeed, that’s how they have been treated in most of the country, where clerks began issuing licenses immediately after Friday’s ruling.

But Jindal administration officials have said they won’t comply until forced to do so. While they initially pointed to the 5th Circuit’s decision as the event that would fully grant gay marriage rights in Louisiana, they changed course after the ruling was handed down and said they would continue to follow the state constitution’s ban on same-sex marriages until forced to do so by a lower court.

(Adelson and Shuler)

So, yeah. That’s what is going on in Louisiana. And, you know, there comes a point where this isn’t about anything else than sheer petulant malice.

Or, as Bobby Jindal is wont to call it, leadership.

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Image note: Republican Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s forum in Waukee, Iowa, April 25, 2015. (Photo by Jim Young/Reuters)

Hensch, Mark. “Jindal: ‘Let’s just get rid of the court'”. The Hill. 26 June 2015.

Adelson, Jeff and Marsha Shuler. “5th Circuit Court tells Louisiana to recognize same-sex marriages; Jindal administration still balks”. The Advocate. 2 July 2015.

Yellowhammer Chaos

'Now why was that?'

The legislation may have lacked any real inspiration, but the silver lining is rather quite funny:

Legislation that would take the state of Alabama out of the business of issuing marriage licenses died in the House of Representatives committee today.

“This bill does not destroy marriage,” Rep. Greg Albritton, R- Bay Minette, said. “This bill does not denigrate marriage. This bill doesn’t desanctify marriage because the state cannot sanctify marriage” ....

.... Albritton said the bill would simply substitute the license for a marriage contract that would be filed in the probate office and would take away the requirement for a marriage ceremony.

It was an attempt to prevent chaos from ensuing if the Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage this summer, he said.

“My goal is not to protect a group,” Albritton said. “My goal is to protect the state.”

(Edgemon)

Yes … protecting the state. From what, exactly?

This is the problem: When they said human rights for homosexuals threatened civilized society, we should have paid more attention in order to recognize what they meant: If homosexuals get human rights, conservatives will set about trying to destroy civilized society.

Prevent chaos from ensuing? But whence comes the chaos? This seems a little bit like preventing a bank robbery by giving the money to the thieves before they walk in.

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Image note: “Now why was that?” Mamimi searches for an answer, under the bridge in Mabase. (Detail of frames from FLCL episode 1, “Fooly Cooly”.)

Edgemon, Erin. “Legislation that would get Alabama out of the marriage license business dies”. AL.com. 3 June 2015.

Happening (Sooner Than Never Mix)

D City Rock: Detail of frame from "Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt", 'Help! We Are Angels', by TeddyLoin featuring Debra Zeer.

When word emerged last year that an Oklahoma Republican legislator was considering the idea of getting rid of marriage entirely in the Sooner state rather than entertain gay marriage, it was easy enough to sort of chuckle and joke about how well they were taking it. After all, they were just venting steam. It’s not like they would actually go there, right?

Well, technically, no. But they managed to come up with something that might actually be worse.

In an effort to block the state’s involvement with gay marriage, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday (March 10) to abolish marriage licenses in the state.

The legislation, authored by Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell, amends language in the state law that governs the responsibilities of court clerks. All references to marriage licenses were removed.

(Horton)

So far, so … er … ah … well, right. So it would seem they went there. Except they didn’t.

Russ said the federal government is attempting to change the traditional definition of marriage, so his legislation would place the responsibility for officiating marriages in the hands of clergy.

“Marriage was historically a religious covenant first and a government-recognized contract second,” Russ told The Oklahoman.

The legislation has sparked controversy, both in the Legislature and with groups such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Oklahoma Democrats are concerned that the legislation will lead to a “Pandora’s box” of issues, including polygamy, once the government’s authority to regulate marriage is removed.

Americans United released a statement opposing the bill, saying it is biased against same-sex couples and nontheists, including atheists. Russ has been unapologetic in defending his exclusion of nontheists from the right to marry.

This is where they went.

Oklahoma!

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“Oklahoma Lawmakers Consider Preventing All Marriage: Report”. The Huffington Post. 25 January 2015.

Horton, Greg. “Oklahoma Bill Would Give Clergy Power Over Marriage Licenses”. The Huffington Post. 12 March 2015.