Noah Michelson

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.


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?


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.

Pretty Much Required Reading

The context is actually, unfortunate, especially since it seems strange the discourse is only getting around to this part, this prominently, at this time, but, still―

… marriages haven’t always involved a man and a woman and certainly haven’t required religious beliefs to be considered valid. Claiming that marriage is a static institution that hasn’t continued to evolve in extreme ways over time or that the type of marriage defended by people like Brown is the only kind of marriage that has existed throughout history is just wrong.

Noah Michelson and Sara Boboltz of Huffington Post dive into Stephanie Coontz’s 2005 book, Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage. 'Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage' - Detail of cover art from book by Stephanie Coontz (Viking, 2005) This book really should have been required reading for everyone taking part in the marriage equality debate, though it is true some have greater need than others―Yes! I’m looking in your direction, “traditionalists”!

Still, though, it really is worth reading if you think you have a stake in the marriage discourse. And, yes, Michelson and Boboltz offer a convenient and enlightening glimpse into Dr. Coontz’s fine historical review.


Image note: Detail of cover art for Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage, by Stephanie Coontz (New York: Viking, 2005).

Michelson, Noah and Sara Boboltz. “Here Is All You Need To Prove Bigots Wrong About ‘Traditional Marriage'”. The Huffington Post. 3 September 2015.


Briefers Rock, from 'Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt'.

“Now that we can get married and queer people having children is becoming more and more accepted, it seems we’ve forgotten that sexual liberation has always been, in my mind at least, a cornerstone of queer liberation. And it seems some queers think we’ve just been having all of this sex and pushing back against all of these sexual boundaries for all of these years as just another way to pass the time until we could become just like straight people. Like, ‘Hmm. We can’t get married yet. What should we do in the meantime? Needlepoint? Nah. Competitive baking? No. Oh, I’ve got it! Let’s get off!'”

Noah Michelson

Y’know … he’s not wrong.


Michelson, Noah. “I’m A Gay Man Who Loves Sex (And Here’s Why That’s Suddenly A Problem)”. The Huffington Post. 13 August 2015.