Thursday, September 10, 2015

Kim Davis: What is Wrong with Her 'Rights', Part 1

This is the first of a multi-part series. The point of the series is to connect the dots of why this is NOT about personal liberty, but is entirely about the religious right attempting to impose their will and beliefs on others who do not share them, violating the fundamental concepts of actual religious freedom and representative government. The right needs the extremist religious fanatics, so they refuse to reign in their excesses, seeking power instead of the freedom to which they give so much lip service. Kim Davis is seeking to obstruct the legitimate marriage of other people, and to force them to conform to her beliefs in order to exercise their civil rights; she is NOT simply expressing her religious freedom of conscience.

Kim Davis apparently has no problem with any number of marriages and divorces by heterosexual people, but in her zeal to obstruct the civil right to marry, she is now refusing to issue ANY marriage licenses, including to heterosexual couples.  Underlining that she herself has been free to marry - so far - four times, but she feels entitled to prevent ANY other couples from enjoying the same liberty, in order to try to get her way.
The bad old days of puritans, religious police,
and an official (or unofficial) state religion.
Not an actual rendering of the image of Kim Davis,
although there are distinct similarities.

"There's nothing more self-righteous than a reformed whore." - aphorism

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Matthew 7:1-3  

"You shall not commit adultery."  Exodus 20:14

"If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die." Deuteronomy 22:22

"If a man commits adultery with another man's wife--with the wife of his neighbor--both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death."
Leviticus 20:10
"Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her.  And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery." Mark 10:11-12

"Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery." Luke 16:18

There is nothing in the Bible, old or new testament, about conversion exceptions or exclusions for adultery. And from Wikipedia about Ms. Davis:
"Davis has been married four times to three different men. The first three marriages ended in divorce in 1994, 2006, and 2008. She is the mother of twins, who were born five months after her divorce from her first husband. Her third husband is the biological father of the twins, who were adopted by her second husband, Joe, who is also her fourth and current husband. Joe supports her stance against same-sex marriage. One of Davis's twin sons, Nathan, works in her office as a deputy clerk and has taken the same position of denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples."

Kim Davis, county clerk of Rowan county, Kentucky, is a sincere but "cafeteria" (selective Christian) born-again Apostolic Christian.  The Bible has  a lot to say condemning adultery, but very little that addresses monogamy (marriage to only one woman) or same-sex relationships.  The few quotations interpreted against the LGBT and same sex relationships are far fewer and of far more dubious authenticity and significance than those against adultery, which are better established, frequent and unequivocal in interpretation. 

Goody for her.  Given the chaos of her past personal life, and her inability to conform to ethical and moral decision making on her own, I can see why she might have needed the crutch of religion, and sought out an extreme version of religion to counter her own extreme poor behavior in her private life. 

However, while I was shocked the first time I heard the lead quotation of this post; since then I've come to appreciate the validity of the observation that those who are religiously reformed, like Kim Davis, are too-often the most zealously excessive and extreme in their views, and all too eager and willing to enforce those beliefs on others, willing or otherwise, through persuasion or coercion.  Kim Davis, those like her, those who support her, are all too eager and too willing to 'save' other people from exercising their right to make a possible mistake in determining their own lives, including who they love and marry, which is the very ESSENCE of freedom.

Instead they seek to impose a narrow, puritanical, theocratic religious nanny state on them, denying them their constitutionally guaranteed civil rights.  I strongly doubt that Ms. Davis would have accepted the interference of a county bureaucrat telling her she could not seek a divorce, or a license to remarry because she would be committing adultery, for example, even though her conversion came while working in the county office as a deputy clerk where this was a real issue, a frequent occurrence - divorces for adultery, and subsequent marriages, including her own. 

As a self-styled supporter of so-called Biblical marriage, Ms. Davis has a lot of catching up to do, and it appears she hopes to do so by denying the civil and religious freedoms of others, and instead imposing her own.

Given how badly she screwed up without religion, it is perhaps understandable she now seeks to save everyone else by forcing her new-found (4 years) religion on them to save them from exercising their own freedom of choice and action - and religion. Or maybe she thinks it makes up for her own adultery. 

I can't really see that Davis is a deep thinker, but rather she comes across as a right wing religious fanatic who has become the willing stooge, the compliant pawn, of the radical religious right.   Given how quickly bigot bucks dry up after the first flush of notoriety, it seems far more likely that Ms. Davis is headed for more real life sorrow and catastrophe, not some sort of happy martyrdom that translates into subsequent success, and that her religious conversion and subsequent attempts at anti-LGBT martyrdom will be just one more bad choice in a long line of bad choices. 

In her 2014 election, Davis won over her opponent by approx. 6.4% of the vote, and won over her primary challenger by only 0.6% of the primary vote.  With the exception of her son, her employees in the clerk's office do not support her, and only complied out of fear. From Think Progress:
In an editorial note accompanying its reporting, the Trial Court Review paints a grim picture of life in the Rowan County courthouse after Davis began a symbol of anti-gay defiance. “The takeaways from the Watkins interview are clear. Davis is acting alone in her zealous mission. Her conduct has terrorized not just her staff but everyone that works in the courthouse. And all for a foolish mission aided by out of state charlatan lawyers trying to raise money for their ‘religious liberty’ mission.”

The county seat, per the AP, doesn't seem to be happy with Davis and the attention it has brought to their county either.  That seems to be far more the action and wishes of outside agitators.  I would argue strongly that it is a mistake for Davis to give greater emphasis to these outside exploiters of her position, over the wishes of her community, given her election numbers just last year.  More than most, her politics need to be local.  The 2014 election was Davis' first term; I don't see her getting a second term with her stunt, however piously sincere.   Per the AP this morning:

Residents of Rowan County want things to return to normal

MOREHEAD, Ky. (AP) -- Residents of the eastern Kentucky town where a county clerk was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples say they want things back to normal. Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was jailed for five days for refusing a federal judge's order. Her resistance attracted news media and protesters from all over the country and forced residents of this eastern Kentucky community to confront each other with deeply held beliefs they hadn't been talking about that much. The Rowan County Rights Organization suspended all protests against Davis on Wednesday. Spokeswoman Nashia Fife said it has been a difficult time since most of the groups' members know Davis and her family. Local pastor Randy Smith said the situation will embolden Christians and gay rights activists alike. But he said both sides can live together in peace.


  1. It was 55 years ago tomorrow that John Kennedy secured my vote ... yeah, he talked about America having too many slums, hungry children and seniors not being able to pay their medical bills (boy, aren't you glad that we have moved past those issues) ... no, he got my vote when he talked about religion and government ...
    "it is apparently necessary for me to state once again not what kind of church I believe in — for that should be important only to me — but what kind of America I believe in.

    I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

    I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all."

    Gosh, and now we have signs "Kim Davis for President" (really) and Pope Francis will address Congress ... my, how things have changed.

  2. DG,

    While I agree with the idea that picking and choosing your bible phrase to cleave to is rather convenient, the picking and choosing issue here isn't religious, it's secular.

    Namely, if I chose to not obey law A, and claim it's my religious prerogative, while you chose to disobey law B under the same guise, we have anarchy. What law would then survive? Perhaps I can claim that I am entitled to speed if I'm a priest because spreading the word of God is more important than adhering to Rome, worse, I could claim I am right to execute someone who wears a weave of two cloths because of Leviticus (and that's JUST using the bible).

    Furthermore, and more important still, is this simple fact. While Ms. Davis deserves and is granted protection under the 1st Amendment, ("Congress shall make no act respecting the establishment of religion nor preventing the free expression thereof") from being compelled, as a private citizen, to act against her firmly held beliefs, the salient point is, she is not granted that protection WHEN ACTING AS THE AGENT OF THE STATE. For if she were so allowed, first part of that robust freedom "respecting the establishment" would be moot. Everyone could say (as the government) that they were simply acting under their religious liberty. Ms. Davis' protections, as clearly defined by the judge here and by innumerable other court cases, ends at her OWN feet.

    That's the key issue, not whether she was divorced. That's side-show. It shows she a hypocrite (sort of), but she's hardly alone in finding some things in the bible she supports and others she doesn't. Equally, in Christianity we "hate the sin, love the sinner" so the fact that the has "fallen down" doesn't obviate her right to seek to avoid sin (in her eyes), but rather, when she chooses to force upon others, as an agent of the state, her own religiosity, she has stepped too far. SCOTUS (stupidly) allowed this for private citizens, but it cannot, without voiding the 1st Amenment, allow it for public officials.

    Ms. Davis should be made to comply, and if she fails to do so, it is in fact the KY legislature which is equally derelict, because if she fails to do so, she should be removed from office and it is THEIR job. It is profoundly significant that they have not and will not. It means the Republican Party is so beholden to the far right that they will not act to uphold the law, and THAT is the real issue here.