Thursday, February 11, 2016

Before 'they' make Kim Davis a heroine ...

Kim Davis
On Tuesday, US District Court Judge David L. Bunning chose not to hold Kim Davis in contempt for having defaced marriage licenses (see the order below). I have seen a considerable amount of hyperbole from Davis' lawyers at Liberty Counsel and others. For example, at the headline reads: “Kim Davis defeats ACLU attempt to force her to violate her conscience.” Not exactly.

Before they try to canonize the thrice-divorced former Catholic, let us set the record straight. In September, after Davis was released from lockup, Davis' office of the county clerk issued marriage licenses to gay couples. Contrary to the judge's order Davis altered the marriage licenses. The alterations included removing her name and requiring the deputy clerks to initial rather than sign the form. The clear intent was to make the licenses invalid. Davis had vowed in June that her office would never issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple.

Indeed, while Davis was still in the clink and the Court ordered willing deputies to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, Mat Staver, head of Liberty Counsel, said “They are not worth the paper they’re written on.” Thereafter, because Davis was defacing the licenses, the ACLU correctly filed a motion to hold her in contempt. Rather than issue a ruling in September, the judge took the motion under advisement.

Now, five months later, Judge Bunning has determined that the licenses are valid (I assume because the couples were ultimately issued valid marriage certificates) and that the progress reports did not indicate any continuing effort to obstruct the rights of gay couples. Therefore, the issue is moot (no longer a matter in dispute). The judge could have punished Davis but he probably felt that it served no purpose.

Mat Staver offered the following comment at the end of his email announcing this decision:
There is absolutely no reason that this case went so far without reasonable people respecting and accommodating Kim Davis's First Amendment rights.
That is odd given that this entire saga resulted from their client being unreasonable. It was unreasonable that the holder of an elected office could act to frustrate the constitutional rights of citizens. It was unreasonable (and frankly ridiculous) that a county clerk would decide that her name on a marriage license conveyed her consent to every marriage that ensued. It was unreasonable of Ms. Davis to reject the obvious accommodation of having deputy clerks issue those marriage licenses in her stead.

Ultimately, it was unreasonable to entertain the narcissistic fantasies of this religious fruitcake.

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