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Posts for September, 2015

Greece Had an Election

Jim Burroway

September 21st, 2015

And with every election, everybody talks about who they think will win. As far as the politicians are concerned, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Syriza party scored a solid win. But if you ask me, any time a citizenry takes part in the democratic process, we all win.

Truly ridiculous bill proposed in Tennessee

Timothy Kincaid

September 20th, 2015

Either Tennessee politicians Rep. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, and Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, are phenomenally dense and lack even the most rudimentary understanding of law or else they are about the most pandering creatures on the planet. Even grade schoolers know that the US Constitution, as measured by the Supreme Court of the United States, is of a higher order than state law. But that makes no matter to these nincompoops. (Tennessean)

On Thursday two state Republican lawmakers unveiled their answer: a bill that they believe voids the Supreme Court decision and continues to define marriage under Tennessee law as a union between a man and a woman.

“Natural marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman as recognized by the people of Tennessee remains the law in Tennessee, regardless of any court decision to the contrary,” the bill states.

“Any court decision purporting to strike down natural marriage, including (a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision), is unauthoritative, void, and of no effect.”

Their bill consists primarily of seven pages of WHEREAS statements quoting freely from the dissents penned by the Justices on the losing side of Obergefell v. Hodges. For some reason, they seem to think that the determination of Supreme Court Justices are legally compelling, but only when they agree with them.

This bill will go nowhere. Even should the legislators in Tennessee unanimously pass the bill with trumpet flare and dancing nymphs, it has no legal basis and will impact nothing. This sort of cynicism is a sad reflection on our political system and on the gullibility of these lawmakers’ constituents.

Deputy clerk says Kim Davis “may have interfered”

Timothy Kincaid

September 18th, 2015

Kim Davis

Judge Bunning has ordered the attorneys for the deputy clerks in Rowan County, Kentucky, to report to him every two weeks as to whether they are in compliance with his order to issue marriage licenses. Richard A. Hughes, the counsel for Deputy Clerk Brian Mason, has reported that Mason is issuing licenses; however, they were altered by County Clerk Kim Davis so as to make them invalid.

Kim Davis came to the office and confiscated all the original forms, and provided a changed form which deletes all mentions of the County, fills in one of the blanks that would otherwise be the County with the Court’s styling, deletes her name, deletes all of the deputy clerk references, and in place of deputy clerk types in the name of Brian Mason, and has him initial rather than sign. There is now a notarization beside his initials in place of where otherwise signatures would be.

I discussed with Mr. Mason in my opinion he had done nothing wrong and is continuing to follow his sworn testimony to the court, however it also appears to this counsel those changes were made in some attempt to circumvent the court’s orders and may have raised to the level of interference against the court’s orders. Mr. Mason is concerned because he is in a difficult position that he continues to issue the licenses per the court’s order, but is issuing licenses which had some remote questionable validity, but now with these changes may in fact have some substantial questions about validity.

Again Mr. Mason’s concern is he does not want to be the party that is issuing invalid marriage licenses and he is trying to follow the court’s mandate as well as his superior ordering him to issue only these changed forms and only with initials and only as notarized, which in the last example I have seen are not even notarized.

Judge Bunning let Kim Davis out of jail with strict instruction not to interfere with the Deputy Clerks in their duty of issuing marriage licenses. She clearly sees her faith as invalidating any obligation to live according to her promises.

Were I the judge, I would inquire with the Kentucky Supreme Court as to whether the licenses are valid. If not, and should Davis refuse to allow the proper issuance of valid licenses, I’d say “back to jail”.

Nepal gets LGBT protections, possibly marriage

Timothy Kincaid

September 17th, 2015


In November 2008, it came to our attention that the Supreme Court of Nepal, a small Himalayan landlocked country between India and China, was pushing the nation to include protections and rights for LGBT citizens (it should be noted that Nepalese perspectives about gender and sexuality are probably different from that of Western societies, but LGBT likely adequately encompasses the ruling.)

In January of 2010, it appeared that LGBT protections, including marriage rights, were to be included in the nation’s new constitution and that the deadline for implementation was May 28, 2010.

But that date passed and political turmoil in Nepal’s parliament hindered the passage of the constitution. And not just for a brief while. Year after year has passed and nothing resulted but turmoil and strife.

But in April of this year, an earthquake registering on the Richter Scale at about 8.0, changed the nation’s priorities. About 9,000 people died and tens of thousands of others were injured. Ancient architectural landmarks were destroyed and entire villages were wiped out, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. The nation’s response was abysmal, and much of the chaos was blamed on a lack preparedness due to political squabbling.

Suddenly the political differences seemed less important.

And finally, more than five years late, the constitution has been approved. (Time)

The landlocked Himalayan nation’s parliament passed the constitution on Wednesday with 507 out of 601 members of its Constituent Assembly voting in favor, Agence France-Presse reported.

The new charter replaces an interim constitution that has governed the country since 2007, when a decadelong civil war culminated in the end of its Hindu monarchy.

And it does appear that specific LGBT protections are in place: (HRC)

Article 12 states that citizens will be allowed to choose their preferred gender identity on their citizenship document. The choices available are male, female or other.
Article 18 states that gender and sexual minorities will not be discriminated against by the state and by the judiciary in the application of laws. It further adds that the government may make special provisions through laws to protect, empower and advance the rights of gender and sexual minorities and other marginalized and minority groups.
Article 42 lists gender and sexual minorities among the groups that have a right to participate in state mechanisms and public services to promote inclusion.

It remains to be seen whether these changes include marriage rights. However, as the Supreme Court has in the past directed that the government provide such rights, it seems likely that they will broadly interpret Article 18 and marriage equality may finally come to Asia.

Alabama House fails (again) to abolish marriage licenses

Timothy Kincaid

September 17th, 2015


Legislators in Alabama have been approaching the issue of issuing marriage licenses with creativity. Instead of coming up with escape clauses for those who go into conniptions at the thought of handing a piece of paper to an actual homosexual (gasp), the Alabamians just want to get out of the marriage business altogether. Rather than giving someone license to marry, they want to just record – after the fact – that people have entered into a contract of marriage, just like you would record a deed.

Which is not necessarily a horrible thing. There may be issues with how such a contract is seen by the Federal Government or by other states, but the marriage license process is pretty rote anyway and one less visit to the local petty bureaucrats is a blessing, not a hardship.

I had thought this issue had died in June when a House committee failed to advance the bill. But it was brought up for a vote this week in the House in special session. It failed again (

The House voted 53-36 in favor of the bill. But it required a two-thirds vote for approval because it was not part of the governor’s call for the special session.

It should be noted that the bill received majority support in the House and passed the Senate in June by a vote of 22 to 3. So there is a very good chance that this bill will be resurrected in the next session.

Meanwhile, Nick Williams, the Judge of Probate for Washington County (think County Clerk) has filed a petition with the Alabama Supreme Court expressing his concern about having to issue “a license to engage in sodomy”. I am not myself familiar with the Sodomy License and wonder whether, as with a Driver’s License, one has to take a test to show proficiency. Perhaps there’s a training course and a learner’s permit?

Williams has asked the Alabama Supreme Court for an order “upholding and enforcing the Alabama Constitution ans Alabama’s marriage laws, notwithstanding the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.” In other words, he’s asked that the federal ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States be reversed by Alabama’s Supreme Court.

Of course the Supremacy Clause in the US Constitution prohibits states from overruling the US Constitution. But the yahoos on the Alabama Supreme Court have little regard for the rule of law or constitutions and they just might rule for Mr. Williams.

From Sarasota FL comes another Christian cake baker

Timothy Kincaid

September 16th, 2015

Spanish Prime Minister comes around

Timothy Kincaid

September 15th, 2015

RajoySpanish couples are now celebrating ten years of wedded bliss. But in 2005, they were fighting for their equality and their primary opponent was Mariano Rajoy, leader of the People’s Party (the conservative, Christian democratic party).

The People’s Party brought witnesses against equality and vetoed the bill in the Senate. But ultimately President Zapatero and the Socialist Worker’s Party were able to get the legislation passed, much to Rajoy’s ire.

But the sky didn’t fall.

And six years later when the PP gained power and Rajoy became Prime Minister, marriage equality was already a comfortable status quo. Rajoy inquired with the Constitutional Court as to whether the law was Constitutional. The court found it so, and that was as far as the matter went.

Now Rajoy may find himself even more comfortable with the concept. I don’t know whether he still opposes same sex marriage but, if so, it is a theoretical rather than personal opposition. (thelocal)

The Prime Minister’s words have come back to haunt him this week as he faces the prospect of attending the gay wedding of his colleague and close friend, Javier Maroto, an under-Secretary within the Popular Party and former mayor of the city of Vitoria.

Maroto, 43, will marry his long-term partner, Josema Rodríguez on Friday September 18th in Vitoria, the capital of the Basque Country.

But sources close to the Prime Minister have confirmed that it is “99 percent sure” he will attend the wedding:

“Javier is more than a colleague, he is a great friend,” the source told El Mundo.

(Also ElMundo in Spanish)

Kim Davis continues shenanigans

Timothy Kincaid

September 14th, 2015

Rowan licenses

Oh boy. It appears that Kim Davis isn’t through with her nastiness or her desire to block equality. Though she stated that she would not interfere with clerks, it now appears that she is altering the marriage licenses so as to purposefully make them invalid. Buzzfeed’s Dominic Holden has copies of the new altered format (see above).

Davis is not allowing the clerks to issue licenses as a deputy clerk at all, but instead as a notary public and while a deputy clerk likely has authority to issue licenses, a notary most certainly does not.

This will likely find her back in jail.


Kentucky’s governor says the altered marriage licenses issued in Rowan County from the office of an embattled clerk are considered valid.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said Monday that the licenses issued “are going to be recognized as valid in the Commonwealth.”

And that may be the end of it. I am still uncertain as to whether Beshear or anyone else is considering that the licenses are no longer being issued by anyone using their authority as deputy clerk. Perhaps the fact that they are employed by the Clerk’s office is being considered to be adequate, but signing as a notary public seems suspect to me.

Australia’s Liberal Party ousts Tony Abbott

Timothy Kincaid

September 14th, 2015

TurnbullTony Abbott’s determined refusal to allow Liberal Party member to support a marriage equality bill is but one indicator of a managerial style that grated on fellow members and lost the respect of the public. And finally, Abbott’s power has broken. This morning the Liberal parliamentarians replaced Abbott as their party leader with Malcolm Turnbull, by a 54 to 44 vote. Upon being sworn in, Turnbull will become the 29th Prime Minister of Australia.

Turnbull (himself previously ousted as party leader by Abbott in 2009) is considered to be much more moderate than Abbott. He has indicated his support for same sex marriage and had called for a conscience vote in the last marriage effort. But what this means for marriage equality in Australia is, as yet, uncertain. (Guardian)

Malcolm Turnbull has promised a new prime ministerial style respecting the intelligence of the Australian electorate and explaining necessary policy changes after winning the Liberal leadership from Tony Abbott in a party room ballot by 54 votes to 44.

But Turnbull said the substance of the Coalition’s climate change policy and its pledge to hold a national plebiscite on marriage equality would not change. He declined to nominate policies that would be altered without first consulting colleagues because he was determined to restore a “thoroughly traditional cabinet government”.

Kim Davis capitulates UPDATED

Timothy Kincaid

September 14th, 2015

kim davis loses

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has tearfully reached the exact position that the County, the Governor, the federal judiciary, and her gay constituents have been demanding of her. Marriage licenses will continue to be issued. (Huffpo)

“I want the whole world to know … If any [deputy clerk] feels that they must issue an unauthorized license to avoid being thrown in jail, I understand their tough choice, and I will take no action against them,” she said. “However, any unauthorized license that they issue will not have my name, my title or my authority on it. Instead, the license will state that they are issued pursuant to a federal court order.”

Of course no one else is questioning their validity and Davis’ only purpose in doing so is a whiny pretense that her efforts to impose her religious values on the county were not in vain.

They were.

UPDATE: new twist: Davis has altered the marriage licenses to remove any reference to deputy clerk. By “unauthorized”, she means “altered”. They likely are invalid.

McDowell County is not like Rowan County

Timothy Kincaid

September 11th, 2015

McDowelFollowing the story of Rowan County, Kentucky, Clerk Kim Davis and her refusal to follow the law and issue marriage licenses to residents of her county, attention has turned to the magistrates in McDowell County, North Carolina. (

Magistrates in McDowell County are refusing to perform same sex marriages.

A supervising judge confirmed to News 13 on Thursday that four workers in the office – Hilary Hollified, Thomas Atkinson, Debbie Terrell and Chad Johnson – have recused themselves under the North Carolina’s religious exemption law.

Some are seeing this as discrimination and bigotry just like in Rowan County and Something That Must Be Stopped. I see the situations as very dissimilar and am not much troubled by McDowell County or their magistrates.

Magistrates do not have any gate-keeping duties as to who can marry in the county. Those who choose to can officiate civil marriages, though they are not required to do so (nor, I believe, have they ever been so required). And McDowell County has provided replacements, magistrates from another county, so as to ensure that anyone wishing a civil marriage may have one. No rights are being denied.

But a more important distinction, to me, is the motivation. In McDowell County the issue is “what I must do” while in Rowan County the issue is “what you cannot do”.

For all that Kim Davis protests that she only wants to not have her name associated with marriages of which she disapproves, her actions show a different motive. The minute that her deputy clerks issued marriage licenses without her name – substituting “office of Rowan County” for “office of Kim Davis” – her attorneys insisted that the licenses were invalid. Davis’ goal is not removing herself from association with same-sex marriages but rather it’s prohibiting all such marriages in her county.

There have been a number of judges and magistrates and mayors and other officials across the country who have quietly removed marriage officiation from their list of services in order to avoid participation in same-sex marriages. And while this is a decision that is in conflict with my own values, so long as this is not a significant or relevant part of their duties and so long as an adequate replacement is provided, I am not much inclined to force people to do things that are contrary to their conscience.

Further, I think that throwing energy into coercive efforts (“they must follow my values, not their values, or they should be fired”) distracts from situations that truly are egregious and abusive. It makes our cause seem more about forcing or punishing others and less about achieving freedom for ourselves.

Seeking to block legal public services and deny civil rights, such as the efforts of Kim Davis, is a matter that deserves our attention and our ire. And, rightly, our community fought back and, if polls are correct, we won the debate.

But insisting that individual magistrates personally participate in same-sex marriages does not deserve our time nor serve our cause.

Kim’s new t-shirt

Timothy Kincaid

September 9th, 2015

It’s pretty easy to confuse the Rowan County Circuit Court Clerk and the Rowan County Clerk. One keeps track of criminal and civil filings and the other issues licenses, but most people wouldn’t know the difference.

For Kim Tabor, this hasn’t been a happy confusion. Tabor works for the Circuit Court Clerk and has been on the receiving end of a number of people who called and asked for Kim, thinking that they were reaching the County Clerk.

So what do you do when your name is Kim and you work for the Rowan County Circuit Court Clerk? You do this:

not kim davis

Kim Davis ordered released

Timothy Kincaid

September 8th, 2015


U.S. District Judge David Bunning issued an order Tuesday saying Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis shall be released from Carter County jail.

The judge’s order, filed Tuesday in U.S. District, says Davis shall not interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.

Bunning is requiring the clerks to file a status report with him to confirm that they are remaining in compliance. Should Davis interfere with them in any way, she will be sanctioned again.

The Huckabee rally is set to start shortly. It will be interesting to see how Davis/Staver/Huckabee will spin this latest twist. I suspect that we’ll hear about ‘the power of prayer’ and how this is a victory. But it’s difficult to see anything but defeat in this for Kim Davis.

Of course, she may declare that she’ll stop the licenses again and the circus may go on.

Meanwhile, a Rasmussen poll suggests that Davis only has support from about 26% of likely voters.

Huckabee keeps children from school today

Timothy Kincaid

September 8th, 2015

East Carter County High, East Carter Middle School and some east side elementary schools will not be open due to the expected congestion caused by the rally and the appearance of Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who is coming to visit Kim Davis in jail.

Davis’ martyrdom act not selling well

Timothy Kincaid

September 7th, 2015

Kim Davis

Mat Staver and Kim Davis no doubt believe that they have achieved the perfect situation. Kim Davis has been thrown in jail like Paul and Silas for her Christian faith. Homosexuals and liberals are showing themselves to be the tyrants that they are and are engaging in full on war against Christians.

But this narrative isn’t playing as well as they might like.

Anti-gay activists are pointing at certain GOP presidential pretenders as indication of support. And Democratic activists are doing the same to suggest that the Republican Party is comprised entirely of homophobic lunatics. But the reality is something quite else.

Certainly some wild-eyed firebrands like Mike Huckabee have rushed to her defense, planning a rally and fundraising on Davis’ plight. Others such as Cruz, Santorum, and Jindal have also weighed in as being in support of Davis and Rand Paul seems completely confused. But for most, the response is more nuanced.

The GOP candidates have expressed some level of dismay that Davis is in jail along with their general disagreement with the Obergefell ruling. But for many of them, their frustration is in no small part with Davis and her refusal to find a solution.

Jeb Bush

“She is sworn to uphold the law, and it seems to me that there ought to be common ground, there ought to be big enough space for her to act on her conscience and — now that the law is the law of the land — for a gay couple to be married in whatever jurisdiction that is,” Bush told reporters in New Hampshire.

Donald Trump

“You have to go with it. The decision’s been made, and that is the law of the land,” the real estate mogul said Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“I would say the simple answer is let her clerks do it,” he said. “Now from what I understand she’s not letting the clerks do it either. The other simple answer is rather than going through this — because it’s really a very, very sticky situation and terrible situation — 30 miles away they have other places, they have many other places where you get licensed. And you have them actually quite nearby, that’s another alternative.”

Carly Fiorina

“And, while I disagree with this court’s decision, their actions are clear,” Fiorina said. “And so I think in this particular case, this woman now needs to make a decision of conscience — is she prepared to continue to work for the government, be paid for by the government in which case she needs to execute the government’s will, or does she feel so strongly about this that she wants to sever her employment with the government and go seek employment elsewhere where her religious liberties will be paramount over her duties as a government employee?”

John Kasich

Even though Davis personally opposes same-sex marriage, she’s a government employee, Kasich told ABC’s This Week on Sunday.

“She’s not running a church. I wouldn’t force this on a church, but in terms of her responsibility, I think she has to comply,” said Kasich, Ohio governor and a GOP presidential candidate. He doesn’t think she should sit in jail, he said, but “I think she should follow the law.”

Lindsey Graham

As a public official, comply with the law or resign.

“The rule of law is the rule of law. We are a rule of law nation.

“I appreciate her conviction, I support traditional marriage, but she’s accepted a job in which she has to apply the law to everyone.”

I think that there are several reasons why Davis’ jailing isn’t getting the expected universal condemnation from Republicans and conservatives.

First is Davis herself. Due to her faith, she dresses plainly and avoids makeup. And while on some, that can come across as sweet-faced and innocent, Davis’ simply looks dowdy. Davis also expresses her sense of entitlement and petty authority in her expressions, giving the impression of sourness and anger. She is not nearly so sympathetic a character as we have previously seen in bakers, photographers, and venue suppliers.

Running a close second is her counsel. They are accustomed to making outlandish and absurd statements to those who share their extreme views and who willingly believe their wild assertions. But when that is trotted out in front of the general public, it sounds like the ranting of lunatics. Insisting that the licenses being issued are void and worthless (though Kentucky law allows for deputy clerk authorization) or declaring that the Supreme Court doesn’t have constitutional authority to rule on issues relating to constitutional interpretation makes Mat Staver appear, as a Fox News panel put it, “ridiculously stupid”.

Also contributing to the lack of respect for Davis may be a current dissatisfaction with petty bureaucrats and never ending regulation. Irrespective of whether one thinks that marriage should be equal, this story seems more indicative of governmental meddling than it does of individual victimhood. It’s easy to pity a baker who is being forced by faceless administrators to bake a cake, but Davis is on the other side of that equation, refusing to engage with her customers and with reporters and autocratically forbidding her staff from serving the public.

We should also consider that Americans are tired of the debate. The question of the legality of same-sex marriage had placed strain on families and friendships and even on personal beliefs as ancient moral codes warred with genuine affection for gay people. And when the Supreme Court found for gay marriage, most of those who were not favorable of that decision were, nevertheless, glad that there had finally been a decision and they could move on. By bringing up again what was believed to be finalized, Davis irritated those who were becoming comfortable with the new reality.

Finally, this situation is not one which could not have found a solution. Davis was given the opportunity to find a win-win by allowing her deputies to issue marriage licenses. This would have allowed everyone to feel good about Davis standing for her beliefs but not standing in the way of others. And when she rejected that offer demanding that she be allowed to block marriage licenses in the county for everyone based solely on her personal beliefs, she was the one who seemed unfair and unkind.

Certainly the gadflies and the extremists and the professionally butthurt will beat this horse for long after it has breathed its last whinney. But the public, including much of the right of center, has not rallied around her nor found in Kim Davis a cause.

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