Marriage comes to Rowan County, Kentucky
September 4th, 2015
James Yates and William Smith Jr. paid $35.50 and filled out paperwork early Friday to become the first couple to get a marriage license in Rowan County since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage June 26. Another couple soon followed.
With Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in jail on civil contempt charges for defying a judge’s order to resume issuing licenses, deputy clerk Brian Mason ended the office’s two-month license ban by politely serving Yates and Smith on Friday, even congratulating them and shaking their hands afterward.
As for Kim Davis, she sits in jail. Where she will remain, I suppose, until she promises not to interfere in the issuance of marriage licenses by her staff.
After today the cameras will leave. Public services are now being issued in a manner that is equal under the law and daily life will resume in Rowan County.
Mike Huckabee and Brian Brown and others of their ilk will continue to rally and to point and scream, “they’re persecuting Christians” and some small segment of society will stay all worked up over this for a while. But the public has moved on and the professionally butthurt will soon find another ‘victim’ to champion.
And eventually Kim Davis will tire of her cell and decide that since she can’t prohibit gay people from marrying, she might as well stop being a martyr. Once the spotlight is off, jail isn’t much fun. And the small blip in the local press indicating some ‘compromise’ of some sort and Kim’s release will be the last of this story.
Judge to clerk’s office: issue licenses or join Davis in jail
September 3rd, 2015
The circus isn’t over
The judge also told all five of the clerk’s deputies, including her son, Nathan Davis, that they are free to issue licenses to all applicants while Davis is held in contempt, but would also face fines or jail if they refuse to comply. He told them to meet with lawyers briefly and consider their fates before returning to his courtroom later Thursday to reveal their decisions.
It appears that five of the six deputies said they are fine with issuing marriage licenses.
After deputies indicated willingness to issue licenses, Judge Bunning called Davis back to court. She refused, but spoke through her counsel.
She refused to allow her deputies to perform their duties according to their own values and religious beliefs. Only Davis’ religious freedom matters, not that of her deputies.
About that liberal Judge who is persecuting poor Kim Davis
September 2nd, 2015
Kim Davis is finding that her personal beliefs make it physically impossible for her to perform the task of issuing marriage licenses. And she’s going to court tomorrow to tell Federal Judge David Bunning so.
What she might not be considering is that Judge Bunning also has strong personal beliefs and has already determined whether an individual can find within themself the ability to do things with which they may not fully agree.
Cininatti.com has a profile on Judge Bunning.
David Bunning is the youngest of nine children of Hall-of-Fame pitcher and former [uber-conservative, anti-gay, GOP] U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning and his wife, Mary Bunning. He grew up in Fort Thomas and was nominated by President George W. Bush for federal judge for the eastern district of Kentucky in 2001. The Senate confirmed the nomination in 2002.
Bunning Sr. was narrowly reelected in 2004 by attaching his campaign to Kentucky’s anti-gay marriage amendment. If any family is vested in opposition to same-sex marriage, it is the Bunning family.
But as for Judge Bunning,
“David is an honest person,” his mother Mary Bunning said. “He doesn’t agree with the Supreme Court but has to obey the law.”
Davis contempt defense: it’s impossible to comply
September 2nd, 2015
Kim Davis simply cannot comply with the orders of Federal Judge Bunning’s order to do her job. She just isn’t physically able to do so. It’s impossible, you see. (Response in Opposition)
Davis should not be held in contempt because she “is presently unable to comply with the court’s order” enjoining her to authorize SSM licenses bearing her name. See Elec. Workers Pension Trust Fund of Local Union #58 v. Gary’s Elec. Serv. Co., 340 F.3d 373, 379 (6th Cir. 2003) (emphasis in original); see also U.S. v. Rylander, 460 U.S. 752, 757 (1983) (“[w]here compliance is impossible, neither the moving party nor the court has any reason to proceed with the civil contempt action.”); Tate v. Frey, 673 F. Supp. 880, 883 (W.D. Ky. 1987) (“The court’s power to impose coercive civil contempt is limited by an individual’s ability to comply with the court’s coercive order. A party may defend against a contempt by showing that his compliance is factually impossible.”) (internal citation omitted). To prove the impossibility defense to contempt, a person “must show categorically and in detail why he or she is unable to comply with the court’s order.” Elec. Workers, 340 F.3d at 379 (citation omitted).
Impossible? How distressing! But what makes it impossible for Davis to comply with the court’s ruling?
Have all the pens run out of ink? Is there a shortage of documents? Did Kim Davis’ arms fall off?
No. Not that kind of “impossible”.
Davis and her legal team may have a different definition of “impossible” than do you, I, Judge Banning and all other rational people. By “impossible”, Davis means “it irreparably and irreversibly violates her conscience”.
She goes on to list several other reasons why she shouldn’t be held in contempt. I don’t find them very convincing. Maybe that’s because she started with an absurdity.
Why Kim Davis won’t resign
September 1st, 2015
Rowan County has about 24,000 residents in about 8,300 households. The median income per household (a blend of single-earner and double-earner) is $35,000. The median income for female workers is around $20,000. The average price of houses sold recently in Rowan County is $95,000.
Kim Davis makes almost $80,000.
Davis issues a statement
September 1st, 2015
Here is Kim Davis’ explanation as to why she is entitled to thwart the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Rowan County, Kentucky.
I have worked in the Rowan County Clerk’s office for 27 years as a Deputy Clerk and was honored to be elected as the Clerk in November 2014, and took office in January 2015. I love my job and the people of Rowan County. I have never lived any place other than Rowan County. Some people have said I should resign, but I have done my job well. This year we are on track to generate a surplus for the county of 1.5 million dollars.
In addition to my desire to serve the people of Rowan County, I owe my life to Jesus Christ who loves me and gave His life for me. Following the death of my godly mother-in-law over four years ago, I went to church to fulfill her dying wish. There I heard a message of grace and forgiveness and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I am not perfect. No one is. But I am forgiven and I love my Lord and must be obedient to Him and to the Word of God.
I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage. To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision. For me it is a decision of obedience. I have no animosity toward anyone and harbor no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God’s Word. It is a matter of religious liberty, which is protected under the First Amendment, the Kentucky Constitution, and in the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Our history is filled with accommodations for people’s religious freedom and conscience. I want to continue to perform my duties, but I also am requesting what our Founders envisioned – that conscience and religious freedom would be protected. That is all I am asking. I never sought to be in this position, and I would much rather not have been placed in this position. I have received death threats from people who do not know me. I harbor nothing against them. I was elected by the people to serve as the County Clerk. I intend to continue to serve the people of Rowan County, but I cannot violate my conscience.
You see, she has the religious liberty to cause the County to deny civil rights to gay couples. That’s all she’s asking. Why are you so unaccomodating?
After all, our Founders intended that civil servants use their own religion to deny services to those of other beliefs. That’s what the Second Amendment is all about: Congress cannot establish religion; that’s the role of County Clerks.
Kim Davis defies rule of law
September 1st, 2015
It appears that at some point over the night, the Creator of the Universe took a few minutes for a very special meeting with Kim Davis, the Clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky. And at that meeting God deputized Davis as Deputy Deity and gave her special duties and powers, among which is the right to determine whose marriage is recognized by the state of Kentucky.
Or so Davis seems to believe. Because this morning when two same-sex couples turned up to get their marriage licenses, they were again turned away. (WaPo)
When Davis emerged, she declared that she was not issuing any licenses.
“Under whose authority?” she was asked.
“Under God’s authority,” she said.
Now, I tend to question the faith of those who jump to claim the authority of God. Surely if you believe that an omnipotent deity sees all you do, you’d hesitate a bit before stepping into His shoes and using His authority to push your will on His other children. The consequences of being wrong are so great.
So too are the consequences of defying a federal judge. (NBC)
Couples who have sued the clerk, Kim Davis of Rowan County, quickly asked a federal judge to hold her in contempt. They sought a fine but not jail time.
The contempt request was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky on behalf of couples, both same-sex and opposite-sex, who sued Davis.
“Since Defendant Davis continues to collect compensation from the Commonwealth for duties she fails to perform,” lawyers wrote, “plaintiffs urge the Court to impose financial penalties sufficiently serious and increasingly onerous to compel Davis’ immediate compliance without further delay.”
A hearing on the contempt case is set for Thursday. I think that Davis will discover there that “My God trumps your legal authority” is a position that judges view askance.
And I think that the request for fines and not jail is a smart one. The imagery of Davis being dragged to jail would feed her martyrdom narrative while levying her salary may serve to incentivize her just as well.
Decision point for Kim Davis
August 31st, 2015
Today the US Supreme Court denied Davis’ request for a stay on Judge Bunning’s ruling. Also today, the most liberal interpretation of Bunning’s stay runs out. Tomorrow Davis will have to decide whether to comply with the orders of the Federal judge or whether she will choose to be in contempt of court. (wkyt.com)
Mat Staver, a lawyer representing Davis, told the Associated Press “she’s going to have to think and pray about her decision overnight.”
Davis’ decision is complicated by a growing pressure on her from several sides. A couple who were denied a licence have requested Rowan County Attorney Cecil Watkins to prosecute Davis for official misconduct. Watkins referred the issue to Attorney General Jack Conway. (courier-journal.com)
The Kentucky attorney general is mulling whether to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether she violated the state official misconduct statute when her office refused to issue a license to a Rowan County gay couple.
Official misconduct is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 365 days in jail.
A public servant is guilty of it when, “with intent to deprive another person of a benefit,” he or she refrains “from performing a duty imposed upon by law or clearly inherent in the nature” of his office or “violates any statute or lawfully adopted rule or regulation” relating to it.
The couple has also filed a lawsuit against Davis. And it does not appear that she has the support of the Rowan County Government.
Amidst all of this, Davis continues to misstate her intent. She claims that she does not wish to be forced to issue marriage licenses that contravene her religious beliefs.
That is inaccurate. The task is one easily passed to an assistant.
In truth, Davis wishes to prohibit same-sex couples from receiving marriage licenses in Rowan County Kentucky, in effect forcing the citizens of the county to live how she deems appropriate. She is a petty bureaucrat heady on her own limited authority and determined to use her dollop of power to the greatest extent.
Abbott thwarts marriage vote
August 11th, 2015
“There will be no same-sex marriage while I’m in charge,” seems to be the unspoken position of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Although polls show that a large majority of Australians support marriage equality (a quarter of the population considers it a ‘high priority’), Abbott has dug in his heels and is refusing to budge.
But the problem with ‘not while I’m in charge’ mentality is that there is an obvious solution. And Abbott appears to be blind to the consequences of strong arm tactics.
The matter comes down to this: in parliamentary block-voting politics, Party members all cast the same vote. In that way the party’s positions are upheld by the members. The exception is when a party leader allows a ‘free vote’, or one in which members can vote their own conscience rather than the party position, and that is what some members of Abbott’s Liberal Party have asked for.
However, if Liberals are allowed to vote on marriage, there is a good chance enough will vote such that equality would prevail. So Abbott has done his best to make sure that doesn’t happen.
First, he stalled on the issue, insisting that it be delayed. Finally, when he could no longer delay debating on a free vote, he stacked the room. Rather than the Liberals meeting to determine whether they could have a free vote, Abbott also invited coalition partners Nationals, who are nearly unanimously opposed to allowing gay citizens the same rights as heterosexual citizens.
This allowed Abbott’s conservative block, along with the Nationals, to block a free vote for Labor. But it pissed off those Labor supporters of equality who felt sandbagged by their leader’s decision and that it was unfair to allow another party to dictate how Labor MPs could vote. They felt that Abbott’s win-at-all-costs tactic did not respect his own members.
This may all smooth over. But the thing about ruthlessness is that no matter how it turns out, it still leaves a nasty taste in the mouth of the voters. And when employed against allies, it tends to erode their loyalty.
It remains to be seen when Australia will join most of Europe and the Americas in respecting their gay and lesbian neighbors, friends, and family. It will come, of course, though perhaps not while Tony Abbott is in power.
But Abbott should have considered that his attitude on the issue may be a self-fulfilling prophesy, and sooner than he anticipates.
Last day for silly grandstanding on Obergefell
July 21st, 2015
Those organizations that are funded primarily due to their rantings about a homosexual agenda and how God is going to rain fire and brimstone down on America have been pushing a notion that is either baldly cynical or astonishingly naive. They have been trying to rally their listeners to call Mike DeWine, the Ohio Attorney General, and demand that he ask the Supreme Court to rehear Obergefell.
Their script goes something like this: DeWine requests a rehearing (which must be requested by today); Kagan and Ginsburg recuse themselves (cuz they HAVE to, you know); SCOTUS votes without the Kagan and Ginsburg; and we win, we win, we win!!!
There are a few problems with that scenario, of course. The court isn’t going to rehear Obergefell, Kagan and Ginsburg aren’t going to recuse themselves, and the anti-gays aren’t going to win, to win, to win!!! But, even more simply, DeWine isn’t going to request a rehearing.
Because he doesn’t want one.
On the day that SCOTUS handed down Obergefell, gays and lesbians were the happiest people in the nation. The second happiest were Republican politicians.
Because while there are candidates for office that will continue to scream about gay marriage so as to raise their profile among church goers and Fox watchers, saner GOP leaders can read polls. So they know well that this is an issue that is only going to hurt the identity of the party going forward. They are delighted that it is behind them.
Texas Judge issues form designed to insult gay citizens
July 13th, 2015
But Judge DePiazza also wants to continue conducting civil marriage ceremonies and knows that if he conducts opposite-sex marriages that he also must allow same-sex couples the same rights.
So he’s come up with a solution. He’ll offer marriages to same-sex couples, but they have to sign a form that they understand that he is contemptuous towards them and they damn well better not talk to him about it or take any pictures with him in it.
The Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling on June 26, 2015 in Obergefell v. Hodges has legalized marriage in all 50 States regardless of gender. The result of this ruling has not changed Judge DePiazza’s personal convictions on marriage, but has changed the way he is now conducting ceremonies. Judge DePiazza will conduct a brief formal declaration of civil marriage ceremony. The ceremony will strictly be a witnessing to the individuals acknowledgement that they want to be married under the laws of this State and be bound to the marriage laws in the State of Texas. A declaration will be read by Judge DePiazza that both parties respond with affirmation.
Judge DePiazza prefers to NOT conduct same-sex ceremonies, but will not decline anyone who chooses to schedule with him.
Obviously this isn’t legal. And surely this judge knows that he’s asking for a lawsuit in federal court, where his chances are zero. Even in Texas.
So I think it’s really just Judge James R. DePiazza being an asshole.
Make me a martyr, please
July 9th, 2015
Toby Will wasn’t happy with the Obergefell ruling and wrote a letter to the Stockton Record to say so.
The Word of God is going forth with striking clarity and Divine accuracy. Man’s rebellion, ungodliness, and unrighteousness in rejecting the truth in order that he may live according to the vile and sinful passions of his corrupt heart is going to be met with the wrath of God.
And in the letter he whined about how persecuted he will be for writing the letter and how much God loves him for it.
Whoever speaks out against this blatant debauchery and dares to take a stand for the truth, will find themselves standing alone. But those who are willing to stand alone for the truth will find that God stands with them.
That’s a pretty mean spirited and self congratulatory letter, but nothing really out of the ordinary. Such rants are expected after controversial decisions.
But what wasn’t ordinary was the signature:
Lieutenant, Stockton Police Dept.
Normally the Record would not include a place of employment or title, but Will insisted. (News10)
Stockton Record editor Mike Klocke said the newspaper generally prints only a letter writer’s name and city of residence, but that Will was insistent that his Stockton police affiliation and title be included.
Klocke said the letter from Will was accompanied by a personal note suggesting he knew the letter would generate controversy and perhaps even threaten his job.
“As a lieutenant in a moderate-sized police agency, I would like to be one voice that makes it very clear I operate from a biblical world view, not a pop cultural one,” Klocke quoted from the note included with Will’s letter. The note continued, “Though this may have a negative impact on an otherwise impeccable police career, I earnestly request that you print what I write.”
And it may well have a negative impact.
Will’s insistence that as a lieutenant in Stockton’s police department he operates with a view that gay people are vile and debauched sends a fairly clear message that he cannot interact with the public with professionalism and fairness. And that rightly concerns his employer.
“He does not speak for the Police Department, and regarding his use of his police position, it is under administrative review,” department spokesman Officer Joe Silva said Wednesday. Silva could not discuss what that administrative review might lead to.
After reading the letter, Police Chief Eric Jones made a call to the San Joaquin Pride Center “to reassure them that Will does not speak for the Police Department,” Silva said.
Jones and his department have invested time and energy in building a good relationship with the LGBT community. His officers receive sensitivity training and the police force is responsive to the community’s concerns.
Will obviously knows this. And he obviously knows that he was not authorized to use his title or position at in the police department to write letters that members of the public will find insulting and threatening.
My only conclusion is that Toby Will is tired of his job and wants to go on the martyr circuit instead.
But so far, the community isn’t calling for his firing. And I hope that they don’t.
The best way to treat self-righteous would-be martyrs is not to fire them but to find them a job that best suits their temperament. And if it turns out that Will violated department policy by attaching his name to his hateful screed, I’m thinking a demotion and a desk in a corner, away from the public, filling out paperwork is appropriate. In triplicate. With a number 2 pencil. In fluorescent lighting.
July 9th, 2015
The last state in the Union to hold out offering state services to gay citizens has capitulated. Kansas held off for nearly two weeks while they “studied” the Obergefell Supreme Court ruling to see whether and how it applied to the state’s various departments.
Governor Sam Brownback, a fierce opponent of treating gay citizens with equality or decency, refused to direct the state’s various divisions to apply the law. He chose instead to issue an executive order that the state ignore any anti-gay discrimination by religious entities that contract with the state to provide taxpayer provided services such as adoption. Lacking direction from the executive branch, compliance with Obergefell has been spotty.
Earlier in the week, most state services had been revised. On Tuesday, state employees were informed that they can add same-sex spouses to their retirement and health plans and that married couples can change their names on their state identity cards.
But the Department of Revenue had still not agreed that a Kansas breadwinner could add her wife and children as dependents on her income taxes. But finally that barrier has fallen and it now appears that every state now recognizes same-sex marriages as valid and equal (bnd.com)
The disclosure of the policy change was made in a filing Thursday asking U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree to dismiss a lawsuit filed last year by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of gay and lesbian couples.
The state’s lawyers submitted an affidavit from Department of Revenue policy director Richard Cram. He said the agency’s policy against joint tax returns for same-sex couples is no longer valid.
Episcopal Church to vote today on gay marriage UPDATED
July 1st, 2015
Three years ago, the Episcopal Church became one of the first denominations to allow the blessing of same-sex unions. But while this was generally perceived as allowing the conducting of same-sex weddings, the church did not go quite that far. They kept a distinction between the blessing and their marriage sacrament.
Today the church will vote on whether to take the final step and open the marriage sacrament to same-sex couples. The church’s Bishops voted yesterday to support the move.
If the change is made, the Episcopal Church will join the United Church of Christ, the Metropolitan Community Church, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in allowing congregations to host and pastors to officiate same-sex weddings.
The delegates have now confirmed the change, allowing same-sex marriage and authorizing two trial liturgies. Here is more detail as to the particulars. (deputynews)
The two liturgies, which were in Resolution A054, include a gender-neutral version of the current marriage service in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, as well as a version of a liturgy that was approved in 2012 for blessing same-sex unions that now also provides vows of marriage. These rites do not refer to “man and woman” or “husband and wife,” but instead use “these persons” or “the couple” to refer to the two people being married.
The 2012 rite, known as “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant,” was amended to include improvements identified since it was permitted three years ago, and then was approved by the bishops.
The language of the existing marriage liturgy in the Prayer Book remains unchanged.
The Virgin Islands is on board with marriage equality
June 30th, 2015
“The Government of the Virgin Islands as a civil society can no longer discriminate on marriage,” Mapp said. “The nation has arrived, pursuant to the Supreme Court’s ruling, at full marriage equality — when two consenting adults appear for a marriage license and apply for that license, civil society is required to respond. And so persons of the same-sex can be married in the U.S. Virgin Islands.”
The US Virgin Islands is fairly socially conservative and Governor Mapp is not personally in favor of same-sex marriage. However, some of the governors of the states could learn from his example.
When asked about the sentiment among many that the territory was not quite ready for the historic ruling, the governor said his personal opinion on the matter is irrelevant.
“Well, it’s not my decision,” the chief executive said. “When Lieutenant Governor [Osbert] Potter and I met during the campaign, we met with a council of ministers and they talked about our position [concerning] if a bill should arrive at our desk legalizing same-sex marriage.
“We said to the ministers then that we would not be sending any bill to the Legislature to do that; but we cautioned them that the movement in the nation clearly indicated that the judicial branch of government would ultimately decide this issue. And that as sworn leaders of a civil society, we took an oath that we say we take freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion — meaning that we take the oath swearing to uphold the laws of the nation as they apply to the Virgin Islands and the laws of the Virgin Islands.”
He continued: “The Supreme Court has made a decision that affects the entire nation. It is not for me to express what my personal feelings are. It is for me to do the business of governance and the business of governance, given the Supreme Court’s ruling, says that if an individual in the Virgin Islands is married to a person of the same-sex in any state of the nation, that the Virgin Islands government must recognize that marriage as lawful.