As discussed in a prior post, U.S. District Judge David Bunning had Rowan County (Kentucky) clerk Kim Davis taken into custody earlier this month because of her repeated refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Davis was found to be in contempt of court and incarcerated at the Carter County Detention Center in Kentucky.
The Religious Right was outraged, lionizing Davis as a martyr for "traditional" marriage and Christian values. For example, protesters converged outside of Bunning's home to demand the release of Kim Davis. Approximately thirty people protested outside of Bunning's house in Fort Thomas, Kentucky on September 7th, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Protesters brandished homophobic signs, including one that cited Leviticus 18:22 and others that read "Don't Make a Moral Wrong a Civil Right!"
At one point, the radical Oath Keepers made an offer of protection to Davis. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes condemned Bunning for supposedly overstepping his authority and violating Kim Davis' rights. In a September 9th statement, Rhodes offered to protect Davis from similar infringements. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)
"We believe Federal District Court Judge David Bunning grossly overstepped his bounds and violated Mrs Davis’ due process rights, and in particular her right to a jury trial. This judge has assumed unto himself not just the powers of all three branches of government, but has also taken on the powers of judge, jury, and “executioner.” What matters to us is not whether you agree with her position on gay marriage or her decision to not issue marriage licenses. What matters is that the judge is violating the Constitution in his anger and desire to punish her for going against his will ... We must stand against this. And so we will protect her and prevent it from happening again."Davis' legal team declined the offer of protection from Oath Keepers, and thus Oath Keepers canceled their planned security detail. Given the Oath Keeper's reputation, this was a smart move on behalf of her legal team.
Several days after Davis' incarceration, the parties involved reached a truce. According to CNN, Bunning ordered Davis released from jail, on the condition that she refrain from interfering with the issuing of marriage licenses by her deputies. Davis left the Carter County Detention Center on September 8th and appeared at a rally held in her honor in front of the jail. According to LEX 18, several schools closed on September 8th due to expected traffic congestion from the rally.
Flanked by her husband Joe Davis, Mat Staver, and Mike Huckabee, Davis greeted the jubilant rally crowd. Crosses and signs, including a yellow poster board that read "Supreme Court = The New ISIS of America!", floated above the audience. According to TMZ, Davis greeted the crowd as Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" played in the background, which angered Survivor's Frankie Sullivan. Should've asked permission first, I thought.
Davis praised God and applauded Christians for rallying behind her cause in a video clip captured by CNN.
"I just want to give God the glory. His people have rallied, and you are a strong people! We serve a living God who knows exactly where each and every one of us is at. Just keep on pressing. Don't let down, because he is here."
After Davis left the stage, Huckabee depicted anti-LGBTQ Christians as a persecuted population who might be arrested for their beliefs at any time. Raw Story posted a video of Huckabee's comments from MSNBC's coverage of the rally.
"All of us need to ask: who's next? Your pastor? The head of a school? Who's next? My question as we leave here today: will you be ready to take the stand even at expense to yourself to stand firm for your convictions, for the Constitution and for your faith and will not waver nor fall? God bless you! Thank you for being here today!"
In another rally excerpt captured by Right Wing Watch, Mike Huckabee blasted the Supreme Court for its alleged "judicial tyranny" in permitting same-sex marriage. He attributed Kim Davis' defiance to God, praising God for allowing America to come into being.
"Our founders were so concerned that they said that should we ever come to the place that we allow a court to run amok of its purpose that we would be living under what is no less than judicial tyranny. That's why we gather today. It is far more than one clerk saying she will not issue marriage licenses. It's that every one of us will have to decide whether or not we want to keep this great republic or whether we're willing to sacrifice it and surrender it to tyranny. And I think we gather here today to say, 'We will not surrender to the tyranny of one branch of government!'.
I do not think that it is possible to explain America apart from the providence of Almighty God. There is no other explanation for how this country could have come into being. There is no other explanation for how this country could have been sustained. The only explanation is that God intervened, and I believe this week, once again, as Forest Gump so wonderfully said, 'God showed up'. And he showed up in the form of an elected democrat named Kim Davis."
In another Right Wing Watch video, Brian Brown from the National Organization for Marriage likened same-sex marriage to slavery and idol worship. He flatly refused to acknowledge same-sex marriage as a legally sanctioned right, calling it "the supreme lie of the land".
"Christians are good citizens. We pay our taxes. We want to obey just authority. But throughout history, when unjust laws have been promulgated and put forward, when we are told 'choose, choose between your maker and the state', when we are told to bow down to pagan idols in early Rome, when we were told to support the slave trade in England, when we were told, abolitionists were told, 'Well hey, Dred Scott's the law! You have to go along!' What did we do? Did we obey? [Crowd shouts "No!"]Following Davis' release, Liberty Counsel issued a statement depicting Davis as a martyr who was persecuted for her religious beliefs.
We need to know where we come from. We stood up for truth against state power time and time again. We know in our hearts, we know in our minds that same-sex marriage is not the supreme law of the land. It is the supreme lie of the land."
"Judge Bunning issued an order this afternoon ordering that Kim Davis be released from the custody of the U.S. Marshals. She has been held at the Carter County Detention Center since last Thursday where she had been sentenced to jail for exercising her sincerely-held religious beliefs.Initially, the matter seemed settled. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway did not plan to launch an investigation into Davis' actions, according to Pink News. Davis was supposed to resume her job without incident. Naturally, Davis couldn't leave well enough alone.
Kim can never recover the past six days of her life spent in an isolated jail cell, where she was incarcerated like a common criminal because of her conscience and religious convictions. She is now free to return to her family, her coworkers and the office where she has faithfully served for the past 27 years."
First, Davis complained that she was allegedly being forced to disobey God by permitting her office to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to the Associated Press. When Davis returned to work at the Rowan County Courthouse the morning of September 17th, she insisted that licenses issued by her office would be "unauthorized".
Soon thereafter, Davis reportedly removed her name from marriage forms and made deputy clerk Brian Mason initial the forms instead of signing them. The Associated Press reports that Davis may have defied Bunning's order by altering marriage license forms to remove her name. If so, she could find herself in more legal hot water over her dereliction of duty.
Davis' obstructive behavior has already earned her legal hassles and jail time, and yet she remains recalcitrant. Instead of dealing with the matter gracefully by either granting same-sex marriage licenses or resigning, she continues her homophobic crusade. Davis' actions may lionize her in the eyes of the Religious Right, but they show her to be an obstructionist homophobe in the eyes of most Americans.
For additional commentary, visit the following links.
Huffington Post: Kim Davis: Canary in the Coal Mine Called Theocracy
What Would JT Do? Kim Davis speaks at Huckabee’s rally. Have puke bucket nearby.
Right Wing Watch: Staver: Requiring Kim Davis To Do Her Job Is Like Forcing Her 'To Grant A License To Sodomize Children"
Americans United for Separation of Church and State: Kim Davis Should Go Back To Jail If She Interferes With Deputy Clerks’ Ability To Issue Marriage Licenses