The ongoing saga of sanctimonious bigot Kim Davis, the Kentucky County Clerk who went to jail rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, continues. She got out of jail after the holiday weekend and returned to work this week. But apparently she is not content to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and has decided to sneak around instead trying to circumvent the judge’s condition for her release: that she either do her job or get out of the way of the deputy clerks who are willing to do her job for her.
At the end of her time in jail, the judge involved was satisfied that she’d quit trying to block people’s civil rights, so he let her go free. Immediately the Religious Right swept into action declaring, no kidding, that she was just like God, Rosa Parks, and a variety of other figures who they mistakenly think Kim Davis resembles in their rush to make her into their newest mascot. Goodness knows they needed one–their mascots keep turning out to be really sketchy, which we’ll be talking about soon.
Ah, but one should never underestimate the sheer determination of a toxic Christian. No matter how bad they’ve lost, no matter how thoroughly they’ve been trounced, toxic Christians have a tough time accepting reality. Like the Black Knight did in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, they will keep doing every single thing they can to force the rest of us to drag them kicking and screaming bloody murder every inch of the way toward progress and to impede the rest of us using every single strategy they can possibly think of to forestall their inevitable slide into total irrelevance. They are the bunions on the feet of humanity, functioning only to slow us down and make progress as painful and hard-won as they possibly can. Remember we were talking about people like that last time in the history post? Some folks just need to hate others and feel superior, and they’ll find a way to do that no matter how dishonest and morally questionable–even repulsive–their actions look to outsiders.
Here’s what went down.
One of the deputy clerks that works under Kim Davis, Brian Mason, has always been up-front about his willingness to issue marriage licenses in Rowan County to anybody who qualifies by law to receive one. In other words, he was doing his goddamned job like any civil servant should be doing. Indeed, apparently he’s been issuing licenses all week without any trouble.
Mr. Mason’s lawyer, Richard Hughes, just filed a notice in court Friday saying that Kim Davis snuck* behind Mr. Mason’s back to change the wording on the licenses enough to possibly “undermine their validity.” The judge had requested status updates every two weeks from the recalcitrant Ms. Davis, but this is an alarming enough development that nobody wanted to wait that long.
Mr. Hughes wrote in the notice he filed that Kim Davis removed the following information from the marriage licenses her office has been issuing since her return to work:
* Her name;
* The county’s name;
* And all references to deputy clerks at all.
The form now has Mr. Mason’s specific name on it but not his title, and only has a space for him to put his initials down rather than signing his full signature. And apparently Ms. Davis wants the form to be notarized, which isn’t something that marriage licenses ever require in that county. The ACLU’s lawyers agree that she seems to be trying to insist that the person issuing the licenses do so in the capacity of a notary public rather than as a deputy county clerk, which pretty much invalidates the license all by itself.
So Kim Davis snuck around behind her clerks’ backs to make the changes to the marriage licenses after her release, but the changes she snuck into the marriage licenses violate her state’s laws about what information such licenses must contain. Mr. Hughes characterized these changes as “really bizarre,” which I think about sums everything up. Indeed, I’m hard-pressed to see the difference between one of these doctored-up licenses and the certificate I got for making it into the National Junior Honor Society in middle school.
There are really only two reads I can give on this situation. Either Kim Davis is so stone-cold ignorant and blitheringly incompetent that she has no idea what legally must be on the forms her office hands out and files and she is acting out of frantic thoughtlessness, or else she is so nasty and evil-minded that she is deliberately using the fear of an invalid marriage license to force others to comply with her bigoted whims and demands in one of the worst examples of extortion I’ve ever seen: “do what I demand or I will put your children’s and marriages’ legal status at risk.” (Feel free to speculate about her version of “God;” I sure as hell am.) I’ve known a lot of Christians like her so I’m not inclined toward generosity here–plus, I defy anyone to watch videos of her and come away thinking she is overflowing with the milk of human kindness. If anything, she is a good example of why Christians need to drop that whole “love the sinner/hate the sin” charade. And she’s got a lawyer advising her, so even if she were simply ignorant and incompetent, I’d expect him at least to know better.
For his own part, Kim Davis’ lawyer (who is with the weirdly racist hate group, talking-point generator, and conspiracy-theory factory Liberty Counsel) is weaseling out of the whole accusation. He’s always been very clear about his and his client’s unwillingness to comply with the now-crystal-clarified law, so I don’t know why anybody expected anything else than the following excuse, which I’m just going to quote in full because it is that much of a laugh riot:
Davis’ lawyer, Mat Staver, disputed the claim. “Kim Davis said Monday that her name and title would not appear on the forms and later that same day the Governor said the forms were valid,” he said. “And Judge Bunning’s order releasing Kim Davis said a form altered by Brian the day after the contempt hearing while Kim was in jail was valid. So there is no new development.”
I’m sure in Jesus-land that word salad makes perfect sense. In Reality-land, it’s another signal that the Religious Right is losing–and losing hard. I wonder if Mat Staver and his cronies ever feel outraged sometimes that America has moved past that happy mythical time they clearly think existed when right-wing Christians never had to justify anything they did. (Also, that dude needs to take some classes in extemporaneous speaking.)
As it is, it’s quite clear to me that Kim Davis and her supporters want a fight. Maybe they think Jesus will save them at the last second, which would be quite a change from his operating philosophy of the last 2000 years, for sure, or maybe they think that the American public will rise up in armed revolt to support them since Jesus seems so danged quiet lately, but either way, it’s clear they are spoiling for this to go to the wall. I’m sure that losing that fight won’t bother her overmuch; if she wins, then YAY JESUS! while if she loses, then YAY MARTYRBATION! Unfortunately, folks like her don’t need much motivation to keep flying their flag high.
On the plus side, she and her supporters are dealing some serious body blows to their end of the religion with every new development in this soap opera of a story. Even if they did win this skirmish, which is looking increasingly unlikely, they will end up losing some big battles all the faster. It just sucks that so many very real people will be negatively impacted by the Religious Right’s culture war until someone finally puts a peaceful, lawful end to their shenanigans.
We’ve actually got a real post coming later on, but I saw this on my phone and I’m battling insomnia so I wanted to write about it.
I’m hoping that “snuck” is okay. I know it’s supposed to be “sneaked,” but it just feels so wrong.