Pat Fagan, the director of the Family Research Council’s Marriage and Religious Research Institute, suggested yesterday that marriage equality opponents start referring to gay men’s marriages as “garriage” and lesbians’ marriages as “larriage,” with the overarching term for “homosexual marriage” being “harriage.”
Fagan made his proposal in a question to Ryan T. Anderson, the marriage equality opponent who was presenting on his new book “Truth Overruled” at FRC’s office.
"A proposal," Fagan said, "something along this line, that we in the pro-family movement start using related terms, but keep ‘marriage’ for what it always was. So we might call — and this is to be worked out — but something like,if you're talking about gay marriage you call it ‘garriage.’ If it’s lesbian, you call it 'larriage.' If you want a generic homosexual marriage it’s ‘harriage.’ But getting these words into use I think is key. And that will take time, but whomever holds the language ultimately holds the whole game.”
Anderson, who has been doing his best to soften the public face of opposition to marriage equality, politely told Fagan that while his “broader point” was “exactly right,” his “only concern with the three terms that you suggest is how will that be heard by other people?”
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes announced yesterday that he had reached out to Davis’ lawyers at Liberty Counsel to offer the protection of his group, which he says is already forming a presence in Rowan County, Kentucky, where Davis was recently released from jail after prohibiting her office from issuing marriage licenses. Rhodes said in a statement that his position has nothing to do with gay marriage, but rather his conviction that Davis had been illegally detained by the federal judge who held her in contempt for violating multiple court orders.
In a phone call with former Jackson County, Kentucky, Sheriff Denny Peyman and other local Oath Keepers activists, Rhodes said that he was on his way to Kentucky to help with the Davis operation. Although the group had originally intended to picket outside the home of the judge who held Davis in contempt, he said, they had changed their plan when she was released on Tuesday.
Rhodes said that the Rowan County sheriff should have blocked U.S. Marshals from detaining Davis, but since neither the sheriff nor the state’s governor will do their “job” and “intercede” on behalf of Davis, the Oath Keepers will have to do it instead. “As far as we’re concerned, this is not over,” he said, “and this judge needs to be put on notice that his behavior is not going to be accepted and we’ll be there to stop it and intercede ourselves if we have to. If the sheriff, who should be interceding, is not going to do his job and the governor is not going to do the governor’s job of interceding, then we’ll do it.”
Peyman suggested that he meet with the Rowan County sheriff to “educate him” on his responsibility to block the actions of the federal courts, but in the meantime, Rhodes said, “our guys are already there and more coming” and they are ready to “lead by example” by preventing Davis from being arrested again.
When Rhodes asked Peyman what he would have done if he were sheriff of Rowan County when Davis was detained, Peyman said he would have stopped the arrest.
“This is exactly the kind of thing that our Founding Fathers dealt with when dealing with the magistrates and the officers of the crown who wanted to run roughshod over the rights of the colonists without a jury indictment, without any of that,” Rhodes declared. “Same thing. They’re going to show their power and show you who’s boss.”
Although Rhodes's anti-government extremism doesn't always align with the Religious Right, his rhetoric on Davis not far from that of the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins, who said that U.S. Marshals and county prison officials should have refused to participate in Davis' detention because they have no obligation to follow “laws that have no moral foundation that are actually in contradiction to moral law and truth.”
UPDATE: Rhodes reports that Davis, through her Liberty Counsel attorneys, has declined Oath Keepers' offer and he has ordered members of his group to "stand down."
This post has been corrected to note that Peyman is the former sheriff of Jackson County.
Mat Staver, the head of Liberty Counsel and the attorney representing Kentucky clerk Kim Davis in her effort to bar her office from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, claimed yesterday that if Davis doesn’t get her way then Christians will be effectively barred from holding all public offices.
Interviewing Staver on his “Washington Watch” program, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said that he was “very disappointed” in Republicans who have suggested that Davis resign from her position if she is unwilling to perform a major part of her job.
“That would establish a reverse religious test where if you hold an orthodox religious view of marriage, you would be barred from holding public office,” Perkins said.
Staver agreed with Perkins, noting that Davis “believes God called her” to run for clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky.
“But if what we do is follow the advice of some of these Republican candidates that say she needs to resign, well what does that mean?” he asked. “That means that Kim Davis and anyone else who is an elected official … that means you have to check your faith at the ballot box. And once you’re elected, you have to change your faith, put it aside, transgress it, you cannot have your conscience accommodated. ‘No more Christians need to run for office,’ that’s essentially the message, and if you’re in office you need to resign your post immediately. Now what kind of America is that? It’s certainly not the America that the Founders envisioned and I don’t think it’s the kind of America that most people want.”
“It won’t stop with this issue, Mat,” Perkins warned. “It will be something else next. This is the time to stand and exercise our religious freedom lest we lose that religious freedom.”
Davis, he said, is the first of many Christians who will be jailed “for their religious beliefs” thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision.
“This is a tragedy, it’s the first Christian jailed since the decision of the Supreme Court on June 26 on marriage,” he said. “But unfortunately, Tony, as you and I fear, I don't think this is going to be the last Christian jailed for their religious beliefs and conscience that collide with this issue of same-sex marriage.”
“No, not as long as there are Christians who are willing to live their lives according to their faith,” Perkins agreed, “and there are a lot of them out there.”
Yesterday, anti-gay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis was released from jail and almost immediately took the stage at a campaign rally for Mike Huckabee, arm-in-arm with the GOP presidential candidate and with her attorney, Mat Staver, the head of Liberty Counsel.
Much of the public attention on Staver has focused on his bizarre, and so far unsuccessful, legal argument that Davis should be able to order her entire county clerk’s office to follow her personal religious views, even in defiance of several court orders. Staver has gone all-in on the Religious Right’s claim that LGBT rights is leading to the persecution of Christians, claiming that obeying gay marriage law is tantamount to handing over a Jewish person to Nazi enforcers and comparing Davis to victims of the Holocaust.
But it’s important to remember that when Staver is not playing the victim of LGBT rights, he is spouting virulently anti-LGBT rhetoric, going so far as to suggest that supporters of gay rights are ineligible to hold public office and defending laws criminalizing homosexuality in the U.S. and abroad.
As these 10 anti-gay comments make clear, Staver isn’t seeking a live-and-let-live world, but rather one where the government is a religious tool of conservative Christians and LGBT people are forced into the shadows.
While he has portrayed himself as a defender of freedom and liberty at home, Staver has actually praised moves in Russia, India, Malawi and Nigeria to outlaw homosexual relationships or speech in favor of gay rights. The group also defended U.S. anti-sodomy laws by citing [PDF] a satirical essay that joked about how gays “will sodomize your sons.”
3) Compares Gays To Terrorists
The Liberty Counsel founder has claimed that there is no need to negotiate or compromise with gay rights supporters because they are acting like terrorists.
“It’s kind of like with these terrorists, it’s hard to negotiate with terrorists because they have a zero-sum game,” he said of gay rights advocates during the debate about Indiana’s so-called religious freedom law. “It’s hard to negotiate with these people who simply are irrational and are inventing things that just simply don’t exist.”
Staver, who once warned that gay people seek to “groom” and “entrap” children, recently claimed that the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to “allow homosexual young boys in the Scouts and allow homosexual leaders in the Scouts” will lead to “all kinds of sexual molestation” as the organization transforms into “a playground for pedophiles to go and have all these boys as objects of their lust.”
6) Wants Gay Rights Supporters Out Of Office
Staver had strong words for members of Vermont’s legislature who voted for a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the state, saying that they were unfit for office: “It is a sad day in America when elected officials are clueless about the definition of marriage. If they cannot understand this basic human relationship between a man and a woman, then they are not competent for public office.”
7) Warns Gay Marriage Will Cause A Crime Wave
Staver predicted that the legalization of gay marriage will lead to a new generation of criminals, claiming that the children of two women are more likely to turn to a life of crime:
He even claimed that transgender people will use the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to rape and kill women and girls: “So you can go into these restrooms or changing rooms, if you’re a man, and want to go in and molest, or watch, or sexually assault young girls…. This will ultimately, in addition to colliding with religious liberty, in addition to forcing a radical agenda on people, this also will put individuals at risk and ultimately result in significant damage and even death of some individuals.”
8) Blames Gay Marriage For Bank Failure
During the 2008 Wall Street meltdown, Staver said that the failure of two of the country’s biggest banks, Washington Mutual and Wachovia, was a price they had to pay for supporting gay marriage: “Washington Mutual and Wachovia, both of which actively promoted the homosexual agenda, have come to realize that anti-family policies will bankrupt the bottom line.”
9) Warns Gay Marriage Will Destroy Civilization
Staver believes that marriage equality will “has a catastrophic consequence for our religious freedom, for the very function of the family, for marriage, for our human existence, for civil society and for any area of our liberty” as it leads to “the unraveling of the United States.”
“Same-sex marriage is the beginning of the end of western civilization,” he said in an interview last year. “It really is, it’s that serious.”
This is the thing that revolutions literally are made of. This would be more devastating to our freedom, to our religious freedom, to the rights of pastors and their duty to be able to speak and to Christians around the country, then anything that the revolutionaries during the American Revolution even dreamed of facing. This would be the thing that revolutions are made of. This could split the country right in two. This could cause another civil war. I’m not talking about just people protesting in the streets, this could be that level because what would ultimately happen is a direct collision would immediately happen with pastors, with churches, with Christians, with Christian ministries, with other businesses, it would be an avalanche that would go across the country.
Last night on Fox News’ “The Kelly File,” Ben Carson defended Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis’ decision to prevent her office from issuing marriage licenses because she has religious objections to gay marriage.
Ironically, Carson said that gays are trying to force their “way of life” on Davis: “I don’t actually believe that they have the right to force their way of life upon everybody else, nor would I want to force my way of life upon everybody else.” Of course, it is actually Davis who is using a public office to impose her religious views on others, and gay couples are only asking that she follow the law.
When host Megyn Kelly asked Carson if he believes that a Muslim county clerk should have a right to “refuse a marriage license to Muslims who want to marry Christians,” the GOP presidential candidate said that Christians can cite their religious beliefs to refuse marriage licenses because “this is a Judeo-Christian nation in the sense that a lot of our values and principles are based on our Judeo-Christian faith.”
Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana claimed yesterday that people are being put in jail in the U.S. because they “disagree with gay marriage,” even as Hillary Clinton remains “one email away from going to jail.”
When Iowa talk radio host Simon Conway asked Jindal about Clinton’s apology for use of a private email server while at the State Department, the Republican presidential candidate replied, “I thought she was apologizing for this failed foreign policy, I thought she was apologizing for Benghazi, for failing to stand with Israel, for allowing Iran to become a nuclear power. She’s got a lot to apologize for.”
Jindal contrasted Clinton with Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was briefly held by U.S. Marshals when she was found in contempt of court for barring her office from issuing marriage licenses, which he claimed shows that you can be put in jail if “you disagree with gay marriage.” (Back in 2009, Jindal took a very different tack with a justice of the peace who cited his personal beliefs in refusing to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple, demanding that the official lose his job.)
“Here’s where we are in our country today,” he said. “If you disagree with gay marriage, they put you in jail, as you see what happened in Kentucky, and yet if you mishandle national security information you’re allowed to run for president. It’s a crazy, crazy world we live in.”
On his “Generations Radio” program yesterday, far-right Colorado pastor Kevin Swanson praised anti-gay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis for her “courage” in standing up to “the forces of darkness.” Swanson said he is thankful that Davis is upholding “the laws of God” by refusing to issue marriage licenses in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality.
“Anybody that tries to approve of the absolute worst possible abomination on planet Earth and give a marriage license to homosexuals is violating the laws of God,” Swanson said.
Swanson went on to condemn the governor of Kentucky, along with every other governor in the United States, for lacking the courage to stand up to the Supreme Court and offer support to Kim Davis. According to Swanson, if the governors abide by the Supreme Court ruling and “refuse to act as ministers of God,” they are placing the Supreme Court above the word of God and therefore “they will go to Hell.”
“They have their place in the lake of fire,” he said. “These magistrates will go to Hell if they do not assume the courage to stand up against the Supreme Court of the United States and fear God, the God of Heaven and Earth over the Supreme Court of the United States, they will go to Hell. And it’s hard to imagine that all 50 governors of all 50 states are on their way, but if they are cowardly, if they are in a position of authority and refuse to act as ministers of God, they will go to Hell.”
Fox News pundit Todd Starnes is incensed that Judge David Bunning, the son of a former Republican U.S. Senator who identifies as a Roman Catholic and personally opposed the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality ruling, decided to enforce the law when it came to Kentucky clerk Kim Davis’ refusal to let her county office issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Starnes told “AFA Today” host Crane Durham yesterday that the judge should have instead upheld the teachings of the Catholic church that gay marriage is wrong.
What gets me about Judge Bunning, I saw a profile piece over the weekend and they said that he is a devout Catholic man who opposed the Supreme Court’s decision on this issue. So what does that tell me, Crane? It tells me this man is not a man of strong character if in fact he ruled against the basic tenets of his own faith. So I think we are dealing with a lot of unscrupulous characters here.
Starnes’ insistence that the judge cite Catholic teaching over constitutional law in this matter, and that his refusal to do so shows that he lacks character and is an “unscrupulous” individual, reveals a lot about how the Religious Right views the Davis case. (Ironically, it is usually Religious Right activists who allege that “activist judges” are putting personal feelings ahead of the law).
Starnes believes that the judge should have sidestepped the U.S. Constitution and imposed his personal religious beliefs on the people in his courtroom, just as Kim Davis imposed her personal religious beliefs on the people seeking a marriage license from the county.
But the courthouse isn’t Bunning’s church, just as the county clerk’s office isn’t Davis’ church.
It seems that those supporting Davis believe that public officials should make sure that everyone else in the country has to follow their personal reading of God’s law, as long as that personal interpretation of God’s law corresponds with the political agenda of the Religious Right.
Pat Robertson onceagain hailed Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who is barring her county office from issuing marriage licenses, as a hero for challenging the “criminalization of Christianity” in a country that “was founded as a Christian nation.” The “700 Club” host said today that a judge’s decision to temporarily put Davis in the custody of U.S. Marshals for repeatedly breaking the law proves that now anyone can be sent to prison just for their faith.
“Christianity, the founding principle of this nation, is criminalized,” he claimed. “You go to jail if you believe in God and stand fast for your beliefs against the onslaught of secular humanism and the flood that comes about with it.”
“Kim Davis is not exactly that champion we’d all want to stand up for our beliefs but nevertheless she did it and she’s the heroine of the piece, but there will be many, many others,” he said.
Somehow, Robertson himself has avoided a prison sentence, despite the alleged criminalization of Christianity in America.
Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis’ attempt to block her office from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples has inspired Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly, who writes in a column today that Rowan County should become “a ‘sanctuary county’ where the biblical view of marriage continues to be honored and respected.”
However, Schlafly writes in WorldNetDaily, judicial tyrants are instead sending Davis to jail “merely for abiding by state law and the Bible.”
When the Supreme Court ruled by the narrowest possible margin that Kentucky’s definition of marriage is unconstitutional, the Court’s decision was qualified by its assurance that religious freedom would not be jeopardized. “The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection,” the Court solemnly intoned on June 26.
In the Appalachian hills of eastern Kentucky, one brave woman is testing whether Justice Anthony Kennedy really meant it when he wrote those words. But the local federal judge for eastern Kentucky, David Bunning, wrongly sent Kim Davis to jail for her beliefs, without respecting or accommodating her sincere Christian beliefs.
It is not “rule of law” to jail someone based on judge-made law; it is “rule by judges.” Kim Davis is not committing civil disobedience, because she has not violated any law. She was arrested, humiliated with a mug shot and jailed, merely for abiding by state law and the Bible.
When the Supreme Court ruled that all 50 states must license same-sex unions on the same terms as marriage, the court was implicitly declaring that Christianity and the Bible are wrong. If San Francisco can be a sanctuary city, let’s allow Rowan County, Kentucky, to be a “sanctuary county” where the biblical view of marriage continues to be honored and respected.
Linda Harvey of Mission America agrees, calling in her own WorldNetDaily column for such sanctuary cities to not only ban same-sex marriage but also prohibit gay pride parades and sexual reassignment surgery. Because “family life would be much healthier and safer in these cities,” Harvey thinks “the trend would be contagious as people share their positive experiences with friends and relatives across the country”:
Since we are beginning to see violations of constitutional rights based on objections to homosexuality as marriage, I believe there’s a clear precedent for establishing sanctuary cities for authentic, lawful, man/woman marriage.
Think about how great life would be in those cities. After all, unlike the defiance of immigration law, these cities would be upholding the actual law under our actual Constitution, not the imaginary one in the mind of Justice Anthony Kennedy.
So, why not cities that uphold a standing, just law? Family life would be much healthier and safer in these cities. Keep out the vile “gay-pride” parades as well as harassment lawsuits against bakers and florists. And how about no pro-homosexual lessons in school, falsely implying that some people are born homosexual, or born to mutilate themselves by sex-change surgery? Also, no ban on counseling for teens who have same-sex attractions.
Of course, such cities would not be without challenges. They would be targets for dirty tricks, phony “hate crimes,” special sections on “gay apartheid” by the New York Times and so on. The formulaic fables and drama, based on no facts but lots of screeching, can be composed now in advance.
We are not unaware of the schemes of Satan, nor of Saul Alinsky adherents.
It will take a courageous city council to take this step, yet the trend would be contagious as people share their positive experiences with friends and relatives across the country.
Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign organized a rally this afternoon in front of the jail where anti-gay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis was being held in the custody of U.S. Marshals after a federal judge found her in contempt of court for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
As fate would have it, Davis was released from custody just hours before Huckabee’s rally, so she came out to speak alongside Huckabee, Staver and her husband, taking the stage to Survivor's “Eye of the Tiger.”
Davis, the Religious Right’s favorite new “persecution” victim, received a hero’s welcome as Huckabee and Staver declared her victorious over the forces of darkness/the rule of law.
After briefly losing her composure, a teary-eyed Davis thanked God and the crowd, beseeching attendees to keep up the fight. Huckabee then closed things out by claiming that pastors and school administrators may soon end up in prison for opposing gay marriage, even though that is not the reason that Davis was put in the custody of U.S. Marshals.
Others at the rally warned of an impending anti-Christian holocaust — a line frequently usedbyStaver — while one participant raised up a Confederate flag.
“A year ago, we were working for a young, 27-year-old woman who was in prison in a Third World country because of her faith, Meriam Ibraham,” Perkins said. “I never thought, less than a year later, that I would be working on behalf of a woman in the United States of America imprisoned by her government because of her faith in Christ. That’s where we’ve come.”
Perkins also claimed that the U.S. Marshals and county prison officials “should have refused” to follow a federal judge’s finding that Davis was in contempt of court for refusing to obey court orders that her office issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
He said that Davis and others have no obligation to follow “laws that have no moral foundation that are actually in contradiction to moral law and truth.”
One Liberty Counsel attorney active in the case, Harry Mihet, recently spoke at a rally outside the jail where Davis is being held in contempt, where he invoked Martin Luther King Jr. to defend Davis, claiming that the clerk will never resign from her post:
KIM DAVIS UPDATE | MESSAGE FROM JAIL through her Attorney. Like, Comment and Share to Spread the Word! #freekimdavis #KimDavis #FreeKim
Mihet also appeared on American Family Radio’s “Sandy Rios In The Morning” yesterday to discuss the case, comparing a judge’s decision to put Davis in the custody of U.S. Marshals after he found her in contempt of court to the massive persecution Christians faced in Romania under the brutal Communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu.
Reflecting on Ceaușescu’s attempt to push the church underground and round up Christians, Mihet said that “never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that the day would come that I would have to represent an American citizen jailed for her convictions.”
The way Mike Huckabee sees it, the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling was “illegal, unconstitutional and unlawful” and thus Kentucky clerk Kim Davis is actually the only clerk in Kentucky, and possibly America, who is following the law by denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples. As Huckabee said on MSNBC last week, the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell has not yet come into effect because “you have to have enabling legislation” and neither Congress nor the Kentucky legislature have passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage.
Huckabee seems not to have considered the far-reaching implications of his legal theory, which, if correct, would mean that thousands of public officials across the country are violating the law by failing to enforce outdated codes that have been left on the books after being struck down by the courts.
The state of Georgia, for instance, only repealed its school segregation laws in 2005, more than 50 years after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Surely, Huckabee doesn’t think that such laws should have been implemented for decades after Brown v. Board of Education was decided.
In an act of defiance that may be worthy of Huckabee’s commendation, the Louisiana legislature voted overwhelmingly last year to keep on the books the state’s “crimes against nature” law — which bans consensual oral and anal sex between people of any gender but had been used to target LGBT people — after fierce lobbying from Religious Right groups, even though the law had been overturned by the courts years earlier. This year, a Baton Rouge police officer arrested two gay men for violating the law, but his police department, recognizing that the law is not in effect, apologized to the men and didn’t press charges.
Of course, Huckabee doesn’t get to become the authority in America who gets to decide what God’s law says and which U.S. laws it trumps, just as Davis doesn’t get to use a county office to impose her personal religious views on others.
Seeing that Davis has said that she would never recognize gay marriage because, in her view, it violates God’s law, even if Congress passed a law legalizing gay marriage nationwide, Davis would still feel justified in ignoring it...and we bet she would still win Huckabee’s support.
On Friday, Mike Huckabee appeared on the Family Research Council’s “Washington Watch” program to defend Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who was found in contempt of court after repeatedly refusing to issue marriage licenses following the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Speaking with FRC President Tony Perkins, who will be joining the former Arkansas governor at a rally in defense of Davis today, Huckabee said that Davis’ rights have been “trampled upon by those who practice judicial tyranny.”
“I wonder if the president would be willing to trade some terrorists to get her out of jail,” Perkins joked. “It’d be nice if he would,” Huckabee said. “Bowe Bergdahl was traded for terrorists.”
Huckabee went on to say that prisoners in Guantanamo Bay have been “accommodated in every way and they were terrorists in our custody, yet Kim Davis is not given an accommodation of her faith and that’s why I say it is absolutely the criminalization of Christianity.”
Huckabee also told Perkins that Kim Davis’ case proves that gay marriage has an impact on all of us, claiming that now anyone who opposes same-sex marriage “may end up going to jail.”
“This is a county clerk who is in jail this weekend without bail, let me point out, because she believed that her faith was more important than following an illegal, unconstitutional and, as yet, an unlawful decision by the Supreme Court,” Huckabee said. “Congress hasn’t made a law yet that says there is same-sex marriage…. This federal judge is trying to enforce something that does not exist yet.”
Of course, Davis is not in jail because she opposes gay marriage, but because she has been held in contempt of court for consistently breaking the law. Requiring her to allow her office to perform its official duties for taxpayers in no way requires her to approve of same-sex marriage.
The GOP presidential candidate went on to say that Davis’ case shows that the government will soon imprison pastors or “the leader of a youth group that refuses to let transgendered [sic] people go and sleep in the same dorm at a church camp.”
Michael Peroutka, a neo-confederate whose Institute on the Constitution promotes a far-right Christian Reconstructionist view of religion and government, has joined the chorus of right-wing voices that have gathered to defend Kim Davis, the county clerk jailed for contempt of court after refusing to obey a court order that she issue marriage licenses to qualified same-sex couples.
Religious Right activists claimed that they were shocked and stunned this week when a federal judge held Kentucky clerk Kim Davis in contempt of court after she repeatedly refused court orders to allow her office to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even after losing her appeal to the Supreme Court.
While the Religious Right has been outraged, many legal observers have wondered how anyone could be surprised that a judge would actually hold Davis accountable for blatantly violating the law. Some have even questioned whether Davis' lawyers at the conservative legal group Liberty Counsel are giving her bad advice and urging her to break the law in order to turn her case into a fundraising bonanza. As one retired judge told Louisville's Courier Journal, “I think you have an ethical responsibility to tell your client she doesn’t have a legitimate cause of action.”
Of course, Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver has been urging public officials to defy the Supreme Court since even before the court issued its landmark marriage equality decision. The group acknowledged that the marriage equality ruling would “expose Davis to potential liability if she refuses to compromise her religious beliefs and violate her conscience.”
Davis, who identifies as a born-again Christian, doesn’t seem ignorant at all of the fact that she is breaking the law. In fact, she attempted to convince lawmakers to change Kentucky’s laws on marriage licenses in order to suit her demands. When that didn’t happen, Davis went ahead and ordered officials in her county not to issue any marriage licenses to any couples, citing “God’s authority.” According to Davis, “if I left, resigned or chose to retire” from the county clerk position, “I would have no voice for God’s word.”
Davis and her supporters are instead tried to use bizarre legal arguments to back up her case:
1)God’s law trumps U.S. law
Rena Lindevaldsen, a Liberty Counsel attorney, offered insights into the group’s legal thinking when she delivered a lecture to the Liberty University School of Law, which named Lindevaldsen its interim dean after Staver decided to dedicate more time to his work at Liberty Counsel.
Lindevaldsen told students in a speech titled “Do Government Officials Have Authority to Impose Their Morals on Others?” that any law that is not “consistent with Scripture” — or, more accurately, their interpretation of Scripture — is no law at all, and therefore, officials are obligated to break such laws since “civil government only has the authority that God has established.”
With this reasoning, Liberty Counsel thinks that officials can impose their morals on others as long as they are acting according to their understanding of the Bible, and therefore don’t need to respect the legalization of same-sex marriage because its unbiblical.
“Whether it’s zoning or taxes or marriage or abortion, in those issues, government doesn’t have authority to say that these things are appropriate because they’re contrary to Scripture,” Lindevaldsen said.
2) Davis was elected before Obergefell, so she’s exempt
In one positively bizarre defense of Davis, Religious Right activist Keith Fournier said that Davis’ oath to uphold the laws only requires her to uphold the laws that were in effect before January 2015, when she was sworn into office.
Some contend that that because Kim Davis works for “the government” she must comply by issuing the license with her name on it. In other words, she loses her right to religious liberty because she has a public position. This fails to consider the crucial fact that when she was elected to her post as the Rowan County Clerk, marriage under Kentucky law was solely between one man and one woman. That was the law she swore to uphold. Then the five oracles of the Supreme Court issued their edict in Obergefell v Hodges, with no basis in the Constitution, past precedent, common sense or the Natural Law.
If this was the case, then anyone who was elected to office before the Loving v. Virginia decision, which struck down state bans on interracial marriage, would then be able to refuse to issue marriage licenses to such couples. Likewise, officials who took office Brown v. Board of Education would be allowed to block the integration of schools.
The injunction operates not against Davis personally, but against the holder of her office of Rowan County Clerk. In light of the binding holding of Obergefell, it cannot be defensibly argued that the holder of the Rowan County Clerk’s office, apart from who personally occupies that office, may decline to act in conformity with the United States Constitution as interpreted by a dispositive holding of the United States Supreme Court.
3)Davis is the only clerk obeying the law
Mike Huckabee has been making the case that Davis is the only clerk upholding the law and that it is actually the vast majority of clerks who are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples who are the ones breaking the law.
As Huckabee said on MSNBC yesterday, marriage equality can only be legal in Kentucky if the legislature passes a same-sex marriage bill that the governor signs into law, adding that the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision is invalid because the court “cannot overrule the laws of nature and the laws of nature’s God.”
When host Joe Scarborough said that Southern states still had to desegregate their schools after the Supreme Court ruled in Brown, despite the fact that the states still had segregationist laws on the books, Huckabee insisted that “you have to have enabling legislation.”
“The Supreme Court cannot and did not make a law,” the Republican presidential candidate said in a statement. “They only made a ruling on a law. Congress makes the laws. Because Congress has made no law allowing for same sex marriage, Kim does not have the constitutional authority to issue a marriage license to homosexual couples.”
Before Obergefell was decided, Staver insisted that a state “does not have to obey” a Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality because it would be “so far removed from the Constitution” that it would cause one to ask if the justices have “literally lost their mind.”
Pat Robertson made the same claim, saying that Davis and others are “not obligated” to follow Obergefell.
4)Gays can just drive to another county
Davis and her lawyers argue that all 20,000 Rowan County residents must accommodate Davis’ personal religious views — views that she ordered all deputy clerks to follow — by driving to another county if they want to access government services.
“You drive 30 minutes in any direction in Kentucky and get a marriage license,” Staver said. “You don’t have to force Kim Davis herself to issue the license.”
And what if officials in the neighboring counties join Davis and the other handful of clerks who are refusing to issue marriage licenses? Staver doesn’t seem to know, as he would likely to defend such clerks as well, insisting that it is more reasonable to let one official disregard the law than to allow taxpayers to receive access to taxpayer-funded services.
5)Anti-religious test for office
While Davis may have exhausted her appeals in the case where couples challenged her refusal to issue them licenses, Liberty Counsel has tried to throw a Hail Mary by filing a lawsuit against Kentukcy's governor, alleging that enforcing the Obergefell is actually unconstitutional since it would “impose a religious test as a qualification to hold the office of county clerk.” The group even argued, like Fournier, that issuing marriage licenses would violate Davis' oath and represent anti-Christian discrimination:
19. Before taking office as County Clerk in January 2015, Davis swore an oath to support the constitutions and laws of the United States and the Commonwealth of Kentucky “so help me God.” Davis understood (and understands) this oath to mean that, in upholding the federal and state constitutions and laws, she would not act in contradiction to the moral law of God, natural law, or her sincerely held religious beliefs and convictions. Davis also understood (and understands) the constitution and laws she swore to uphold to incorporate the constitutional and other legal protections of all individuals’ rights to live and work according to their consciences, as informed by their sincerely held religious beliefs and convictions, including without limitation such rights she holds in her own individual capacity.
20. Davis’s sincerely held religious belief regarding the definition of “marriage” was perfectly aligned with the prevailing marriage policy in Kentucky at the time she took office, as provided in the Kentucky Constitution, Kentucky statutes, and controlling court decisions, and as effected by the Commonwealth through Governor Beshear and Commissioner Onkst.
38. Governor Beshear’s targeted and discriminatory marriage policy pronouncements constitute government-imposed pressure on Davis to act contrary to her religious beliefs, and expose Davis to potential liability if she refuses to compromise her religious beliefs and violate her conscience.
But the Rowan County office is not Kim Davis’ church or her “business,” as she once referred to it. Davis does not have to offer her personal support or approval to same-sex marriage; in fact, she and her church can remain dutifully opposed to such unions, but she cannot stop the government, which has legalized gay marriage, and county clerk deputies from performing job functions just because she has a personal disagreement.
Following a judge’s order yesterday that Davis remain in custody of U.S. Marshals for continuing to defy the courts by refusing to issue marriage licenses in her county, Staver appeared on the Family Research Council's “Washington Watch” program, where he once again brought up Nazi tyranny.
“Washington Watch” host Craig James, after mentioning his own lawsuit against Fox Sports for terminating his job as a football analyst over comments he made mocking gay rights, claimed that America is now on a “slippery slope” of anti-Christian persecution. Legal organizations like Liberty Counsel, he said, need to “confront people who are breaking the law" — which, in James’ mind, apparently does not include Davis.
Staver then accused Davis’ critics of turning America into Nazi Germany: “Back in the 1930s, it began with the Jews, where they were evicted from public employment, then boycotted in their private employment, then stigmatized and that led to the gas chambers. This is the new persecution of Christians here in this country.”
The Liberty Counsel chairman has previously claimed that respecting gay marriage laws is no different than handing Jews over to the Nazis: “You cannot obey something that is contrary to God's law. And we would easily say, well, what would happen if the government forced you turn over a Jew in Nazi Germany? All of us would say we wouldn't do that, we wouldn't listen to that. Well, we're about ready to walk into the moment.”
The way Liberty Counsel sees it, the Supreme Court’s landmark Obergefell decision is illegitimate and can be ignored. In a lawsuit that Liberty Counsel filed for Davis against the governor of Kentucky, the group claims that Davis cannot act “in contradiction to the moral law of God, natural law, or her sincerely held religious beliefs and convictions” without violating her oath of office.
Liberty Counsel adds that the enforcement of the marriage equality ruling is inherently unconstitutional as it “creates a religious (or anti-religious) test for holding office — which the United States and Kentucky Constitutions expressly forbid.”
By invoking “God’s authority” even after the Supreme Court rejected her appeals, Davis is echoing Liberty Counsel’s argument that her own interpretation of divine law trumps whatever the courts say, and as a public official she must follow this higher authority.
Davis has now become a figure that Liberty Counsel uses to claim that Christians in America are not only facing oppression, but have no need to follow the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage.
If Davis can defy the courts, Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver argues, then other elected officials can turn their counties (or cities and states) into “sanctuary cities” safe from gay marriage. “If they come out with a decision that is contrary to God's natural created order,” Staver said before the court ruled in Obergefell, “I personally will advocate disobedience to it ... and collectively, we cannot accept that as the rule of law.”
Before the Supreme Court's ruling, Staver called on officials to practice civil disobedience if it ruled "the wrong way" and to tell the court, “Goodbye, get out of my state, that’s not what’s going to happen to my state.” He urged elected officials to “go back to the days of Martin Luther King Jr., go back to the days of the American Revolution” in defying marriage equality.
“This is the thing that revolutions literally are made of,” Staver said in 2012, anticipating a Supreme Court ruling like Obergefell. “This would be more devastating to our freedom, to our religious freedom, to the rights of pastors and their duty to be able to speak and to Christians around the country, than anything that the revolutionaries during the American Revolution even dreamed of facing. This would be the thing that revolutions are made of. This could split the country right in two. This could cause another civil war.”
He has even likened the refusal to abide by marriage equality to defying the Nazi government, urging conservatives to emulate German dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer and refuse to respect gay marriage just as they wouldn’t turn over a Jew to the Nazis. “You cannot obey something that is contrary to God’s law," he said in March. "And we would easily say, well, what would happen if the government forced you turn over a Jew in Nazi Germany? All of us would say we wouldn’t do that, we wouldn’t listen to that. Well, we’re about ready to walk into the moment.”
The Davis case isn't the first time that Staver’s legal team has urged a client to break the law in order to abide by what it claims is God's law. His group once represented Lisa Miller, a self-proclaimed "ex-gay," in a child custody dispute with her former partner. The Liberty Counsel instructors at Liberty University’s Law School reportedly told their students that they must follow God’s law over U.S. law in such a case and Miller did just that, violating the terms of the custody agreement, which caused the courts to then transfer custody of their daughter to Miller’s former partner. Once again defying the courts, Miller then fled the country with the child, travelling to Canada and then ultimately to Central America, sparking an international kidnapping case.
Now, it seems that Kim Davis has emerged as the anti-gay Rosa Parks that Staver and other conservative leaders have been longing to find and use as a test case for their radical view of the Constitution.
The Kentucky clerk heading to court today for a contempt hearing over her order that her county office defy the Supreme Court and refuse to issue marriage licenses has already received support from GOP presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul. The clerk, Kim Davis, now also has the support of Louisiana governor and GOP presidential candidate Bobby Jindal, who has tried to turn phony claims about Christian persecution in America into a major campaign theme.
"I don't think anyone should have to choose between following their conscience and religious beliefs and giving up their job and facing financial sanctions. I think it's wrong to force Christian individuals or business owners. We are seeing government today discriminate against whether it's clerks, florists, musicians or others. I think that's wrong. I think you should be able to keep your job and follow your conscience," he said. "I absolutely do believe people have a First Amendment right, a constitutional right. I don't think the court can take that away."
The case made national news and Jindal came out with a strong statement demanding that the official either follow the law or lose his job, dismissing the official's stated personal objection: “This is a clear violation of constitutional rights and federal and state law. ... Disciplinary action should be taken immediately — including the revoking of his license.” The governor later hailed the justice of the peace's resignation as “long overdue.”
This of course begs the question: Why does Jindal think that a public official who violates the law by citing her personal objection to gay marriage is worthy of praise and legal protection, while a public official who violates the law by citing his personal objection to interracial marriage is worthy of scorn and must be dismissed from his job?
Perhaps it has something to do with Jindal’s desperate campaign to portray American Christians as victims of government oppression?