I Don’t Think You Understand How This Works….

Okay…I wasn’t going to weigh in on the ridiculous clerk who has been refusing to comply with the law and numerous court decisions requiring her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but these paragraphs in a recent story got me:

Davis, an elected official and Democrat, has argued that she should be exempt from following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges because she objects to same-sex marriage for religious beliefs.

She had asked the judge to delay his ruling until the Kentucky state legislature, which won’t be in session again until January, can pass legislation that would exempt her and other clerks who don’t wish to follow the law.

Does this woman really believe that the state legislature can pass a bill that–in effect–overrules the U.S. Constitution?

It’s depressing enough when ordinary citizens don’t understand the most basic structure of American government, but how in the world does someone who has spent decades working in a government office remain so appallingly ignorant of the Constitution, the Supremacy Clause, and the operation of the First Amendment?

It’s hard to escape the suspicion that this is intentional ignorance, grandstanding–that no one is really that stupid.

It’s bad enough that she seems embarrassingly ignorant of the nature of religious liberty. As many observers have pointed out, she is entitled to believe anything she wants, but she is not entitled to a government job or paycheck. If her beliefs prevent her from doing what the job requires, she needs to quit.

If I told the University that my religious beliefs “exempted” me from having to teach certain students, believe me, I wouldn’t be on the faculty very long!

A Facebook friend put it this way: if a Quaker public official refused to issue a gun permit, citing “sincerely held” pacifist religious beliefs, would Davis’ “religious liberty” defenders insist that those sincerely held religious beliefs should be accommodated? Or are her defenders more likely to be a bit selective about their demands for accommodation?

It is difficult to identify the most offensive element of this sordid effort to blame discrimination against LGBT folks on God, but I think the winner may be a statement issued yesterday by Davis’ attorney, Matt Staver of the Liberty Counsel. Stare had the chutzpah (google it) to compare Davis to the Jews under the Nazis.

According to Staver, sanctioning a government employee for refusal do the job she is being paid to do is just like sending millions of people to the gas chambers.

I want to pity these people. I really do. But they seem so unworthy of human compassion.


  1. Sheila; thanks for your always on-target comments and information. Having many gay friends, I have been following this situation – on Facebook because the Indianapolis Star and their USA Today advertisement insert have had little to say about this ridiculous situation. Local TV newscasters skim over it with only basic information.

    Davis continues to refuse to issue marriage licenses and will continue to do so and continue to order her six clerks to do the same, the clerks are not elected officials so are subject to firing. She “accepted the keys” to the Clerk’s Office upon her inauguration from her mother who had held the position for 37 years. Five of the six clerks have stated they will issue marriage licenses; number six is Davis’ son. Is this a Kentucky state-sanctioned family-operated political office? Fortunately – for most Kentucky residents – GoFundMe has denied her access to obtain donations through their service. She was already denied defense by the state attorney who, whatever his personal beliefs, is holding fast to state and federal laws.

    Kentucky has risen above this level, well…other than McConnell, regarding the changing times. I have said before, and it bears repeating, voters will often opt for a familiar name on election days, believing if they got elected before, they must belong there. Never more true in the McConnell re-election and the inherited family position of County Clerk position of Davis.

  2. Yesterday on “Morning Joe” GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee also posed as Exhibit A for not understanding how all of this works. He insisted that the clerk had no obligation to issue licenses to same sex couples until the Kentucky legislature changed the state’s marriage law. But he had no answer to Joe Scarborough’s observation that no state legislatures had to act before Brown vs. Education became the law of the land. And, of course, no explanation as to why she also could refuse to issue licenses to opposite sex couples….clearly something that the Kentucky statute still permits. (Do we doubt for a minute that if the Kentucky statute were changed she would still cling to her religious objections, citing the superiority of “God’s law”?)

    Joe should have asked Huckabee (and others reflecting his view) if the opinion of five unelected Supreme Court Judges in interpreting the Second Amendment in a way many if not most people think ignores its plain language doesn’t have to be observed until state legislatures rewrite their gun laws to conform. But then of course since the right to keep and bear arms is somewhere in the Bible (just give me a minute) that’s a no-brainer.

    And speaking of rewrites, there seems to be a new version of what Christ had to see when asked about civic duties: It’s now “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s as I interpret God to say belong to Ceasar, which is very little if anything, and to God the things that are God’s, which of course is really everything.”

    [As I write this during “Morning Joe” this morning Donald Trump just agreed that the SCOTUS marriage equality decision is the law of the land and should be obeyed, emphasizing the importance of the rule of law. Sheila, do you think he’s reading your columns?]

  3. Don,

    Trump is just cleaning up his act, as I predicted he would start to do. Sort of like Hitler did just before he moved against the Czechs.

    Disclaimer: I’m not comparing Trump to Hitler. Hitler was a lot smarter.

  4. I understand this young lady has had marital difficulties in the past….perhaps she is merely trying to save her constituents ‘from’ marriage.

  5. “Does this woman really believe that the state legislature can pass a bill that–in effect–overrules the U.S. Constitution?”

    Gay marriage is in the U.S. Constitution? I didn’t see that. Perhaps you can show me the cite.

    I did see where religious freedom is in the Constitution. It’s right there in the First Amendment, of all places.

    The Clerk is right and is a true hero for freedom and America. Bunning is wrong. Very, very, wrong.

    “Stare had the chutzpah (google it) to compare Davis to the Jews under the Nazis.”

    I invoke Godwin. You lose, Kennedy.

    “Godwin’s Law posits that as an online argument grows longer and more heated, it becomes increasingly likely that somebody will invoke Adolf Hitler or the Nazis. When that happens, the guilty person is seen to have effectively forfeited both the argument and the right to be taken seriously.”

    Sheila Kennedy, 7-29-15

  6. It is quite probable that Kim Davis is simply a tool. A rather simple, sincere woman living a rather simple life who is misguided, and intentionally being misguided and misadvised by some very sinister people.

    For what the Liberty Counsel seeks is in actuality a Coup, an overthrow of our constitutional government with its equal treatment under law, and its protections against the vagaries of a shifting, fluid, but absolutely authoritarian theology and theocracy.

    Her lawyers understand EXACTLY how things work. And how things work is exactly what they wish to abolish, and replace with their “biblical” iron fist. (which isn’t really biblical at all.)

    Kim Davis is, to them, simply a “useful fool” in their overthrow of the US government.

  7. Another news report this morning about marriage equality opponents, this one out of Tennessee where State Judge Atherton denied a straight couple a divorce because of the SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage. The reasoning was the same as that used by Mrs. Davis’s defenders . The Judge claimed that he could not grant the divorce because the definition of marriage now did not match the state’s definition of marriage thus did not match the state’s laws on divorce. He railed against this Federal intrusion into the state’s right to make its own laws regarding marriage.
    Some of us reading this blog have seen this all before. It was during the 1960s and the issue then was civil rights. “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

  8. The title of my new book should be: “How to Lose Friends and Influence People.”

    My 1st chapter will be dedicated to Gopper who has kept me in touch with the “total political reality in America” as I continually observe and once and awhile participate in this one of a kind blog.

    I believe Sheila’s Blog is the only totally “free space” in America. Democracy can’t exist without free speech.

    I’m a fan of Rachel Maddow, but she is monitored and has her limits. That’s not “real” democracy in action. She can be terribly misleading since she doesn’t state her limitations.

  9. One can only hope that the clerk in KY is in the general prison population so she can get the total prison experience. And PLEASE put the other three in there with her. She is not the only one.

  10. Another Facebook post this morning (hope it was researched before posted); five months after the divorce from Davis’ 1st husband she gave birth to twins fathered by the man who became her 3rd husband. No explanation or information on poor number 2 and I lost track which husband she married twice totaling four marriages. Are you keeping up with me so far? Apparently she should have “got religion” much sooner than four years ago; is she trying to atone for her “sins” (considered by most to be mistakes in judgement) by punishing gays she considers to be “sinners”? We will never know the full story here.

    But; Indianapolis has it’s own national level sex scandal with Jared Fogle’s pornographic collection and his out-of-state for paid-for under-age sex to live with – and live down. These situations could be such that follow the money isn’t the source or the problem; unless the Subway based fortune Fogle has earned comes into play. “weinergate” was so much easier to know the players and follow the action.

  11. It’s important to remember that her mother had that position for many years, and she essentially inherited it and hired her son with the expectation that he would continue the family tradition. She viewed the job literally, as her property to do as she wished. She was the queen of the clerk’s office, not its trustee. Add to that the fact that she was a controlling and rigid person, this was the perfect storm waiting to happen. SCOTUS violated her personal boundaries and someone actually had the temerity to do something she didn’t want to do.

    Consider the fact that she actually sat down with the governor and thought she could persuade him to bend to her will, offered a solution for the problem to the legislature and believed that SCOTUS was her employee, then shocked that people didn’t bow down. She’s invoking God, when she views herself as her own god. This might give you a hint as to why she was married four times.

    As she is safely ensconced in jail cell, people will step up and start telling some hair-raising stories about how she wielded her selfish perception of her job. Sometimes being repeatedly elected to a position creates strange ideas about one’s self and hones narcissistic tendencies.

    I am sure that these kinds of people are in most city and county offices. It wasn’t long ago that a Lake County employee refused to release public records to a reporter because she simply didn’t want him to have them.

  12. The law that is being proposed does not actually change the marriage law. Rather, it provides county clerks with an opt-out in matters of conscience. This is just as troubling to me because, as we have seen with the Rowan County case, not only did she personally object to issuing the licenses, she has refused to allow any of her staff issue them, thus effectively excluding that entire county from marriage equality.

  13. JoAnne, how about laying off on the Clerk in Kentucky for a moment? The Clerk of Courti in Jacksonville “The Home of the Jaguars and Second largest City in the World” refuses to perform same sex marriages also. It’s not just the one Clerk, or the one Trump.

    The problem is that we’re facing an epidemic of hatred from all sides of the Extreme Right. And it has been going untreated at the deepest levels for over 45 years. At the deepest levels you follow the Nazi playbook not the money trail. The Koch Brothers are much more than money.

    They are succeeding thru a coup by installments: Two steps forward, one backward.

    Coups eventually have to go out in the open. That’s what is going on now. Trump has forced the issue. The Extreme Right is confident of final victory. Just listen to Gopper.

    As long as the pro-democracy forces fail to FULLY ENGAGE, social democracy as contrasted to procedural democracy will die despite the efforts of Rep. Bernie Sanders from our “island state” of Vermont.

  14. I still have to ask the question. How does one prove beyond a reasonable doubt performing some activity violates your “deeply held religious beliefs” here in the USA. Is there a written test – How well do you know your Bible?? – True-False questions, multiple choice, essay questions, or is a verbal quiz good enough to prove your convictions??

    Perhaps our Bible Thumpers here in Indiana will want our Governor Dense and the Legislature to over ride the Supreme Court by offering opt out for Government Employees who do not want to participate in Gay Marriage. You know States Rights and all that Trumps (no pun intended) Federal Government.

  15. Maybe Kentucky law is different, but it seems to me (being generous here) she just misunderstands her situation. Her job as Clerk is simply to verify applicants have provided proof they’re legally allowed to marry. That’s all her signature means. Her approval and opinion on the matter are not required. However important they may be, the voices of her conscience are just not relevant.

    Granted, the law has changed. Same-sex couples may now marry, and she finds that so objectionable she feels she cannot now do her job. She should step down then, just as she would if she suddenly became unable to do her job due to a stroke, or some other situation that could not be accommodated. Asking the Supreme Court or the Kentucky legislature for accommodation is not appropriate. She’s free to campaign to change the law, but she took an oath (something most Christians should take seriously) when she assumed the duties of her office. She must either must obey the law or step aside.

  16. It’s probably an exercise in futility, but in response to Gopper’s observation (“Gay marriage is in the U.S. Constitution? I didn’t see that. Perhaps you can show me the cite.”) there are any number of subjects that are not in the text of the U.S. Constitution which nonetheless have been the subjects of Supreme Court decisions favored/disfavored by conservatives and liberals alike. I don’t see the term “campaign finance” in the Constitution, for example, yet we have Citizens’s United.

    The provision that mandates the “equal protection of the laws” doesn’t say it applies only to things specifically named in the Constitution.

  17. Great comments about the magnitude of the ignorance problem so threatening to America and democracy.

    Gopper, you did your part too demonstrating the specifics of the misinformation.

    As I lumbered to point out yesterday we are a giant step worse than ignorant. We’ve always had that problem but people who didn’t know stuff said stuff like “I don’t know”.

    Now while they are merely bobble heading the bobble head TV programmer of minds they think that they do know. In fact they are defiantly confident that they are born again intellectuals.

    Reciting stuff like the Constitution gives me the right to impose my religion rather than the Constitution prohibits government from making laws in favor or against any religion.

    They are now programmed to be misinformed rather than merely not knowing. And we know why. They are needed as minions of the dark side of America, the oligarchy waiting in the wings to consume us.

    Sheila, among very many others, is constantly defending what we need to prevent this take over of everything American. Knowledge.

    Before I read the topic this morning I was thinking of a specific need for education here and now to push back the programming. An understanding of the specifics of the Federal budget. How SS and Medicare work as mandatory savings accounts and the way our savings are invested in the world’s least risky investment, US Treasury Bonds. How that differs from social services and what the consequences as evidenced by other less fortunate countries would be if we couldn’t afford them. How much we spend on military and corporate welfare. How chaotic and risky drug and food safety and energy and waste disposal would be without regulation. All stuff on the Internet undisturbed by educationally deprived couch potato Americans lapping up the programming disguised as news in fact entertainment.

    My heart and mind grieves for the days when “I don’t know” was seen as a starting point for education and not an admission of defeat to be lipsticked over by entertainers.

  18. Gopper you’re an idiot. She wasn’t invoking the Nazis, she was ridiculing some else who invoked them. Just like you were (ostensibly, in your mind) doing. So I guess you “lose” too.
    And yeah, she absolutely does have freedom to her religious beliefs. She just doesn’t, as an arm if the government, have the right to inflict those beliefs on anyone else in contravention of the law. No different than a butcher claiming that, as a Buddhist, he couldn’t sell meat. Free to believe what you want, but not free to hold a job which includes duties that your beliefs prevent you from fulfilling.

  19. It’s interesting Sheila suggested a Quaker refusing to sign a permit to purchase a gun: in 1739 the Quaker dominated Pennsylvania Assembly voted against defense appropriations. Gov. Thomas “pointed out that the Quakers were withholding basic government services in the name of religious liberty.” How quaint. (see “The Founding Fathers and The Place of Religion in America”, Frank Lambert, Professor of History at Purdue University. pp. 120, 121. Princeton University Press, 2003.)

  20. Louie, one simply has to claim “deeply held religious beliefs”. No test or proof is necessary. Take the Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case. At issue was whether Hobby Lobby and corporations like them have to provide contraceptive coverage for their employees. It was irrelevant that their moral stance against oral contraceptives, i.e. that they are abortifacients, was based on false information.

  21. Gary, to extend your important point, indeed the clerk only records events, but this woman just doesn’t want her name associated with the fact that she recorded it. Reminds me of a journalist who writes a story about a court verdict, but doesn’t want the byline because he/she disagrees with the verdict.

    The whole event only points to a person who is simply very judgmental and narcissistic enough to think that God agrees with her. (Big mistake.) Instead of demonstrating for her, I would think that local Christians would quietly go about their business and do something good for the community to distract attention from her.

  22. Sheila, your last comment “I want to pity these people. I really do. But they seem so unworthy of human compassion” is significant. Jesus told his followers not to be judgmental, or they would end up being judged by the same standards. This woman who is so judgmental and lacking in compassion ends with the same thing happening to her.

  23. Marv; did the clerk in Jacksonville order other employees to break the law by not issuing licenses to applicants? Having worked in local government for 20 years I still remember; you do NOT refuse an order from an elected official. No matter how stupid, insensitive or wrong they are. I battled that in the Goldsmith administration – via one Deputy Mayor and her Executive Assistant, neither were elected but you don’t refuse to obey orders of the elected ones. I had the laws of the state of Indiana behind me regarding the Metropolitan Development Commission, the most powerful commission in the state. The “problem with me” was that I insisted on following laws I was told to break and to provide public information to any and all who requested it. They couldn’t fire me, I knew too much, but they did stress me to the point that my health was destroyed and I left after 2 years, 3 months and 11 days – permanently disabled. Would I do it again – to borrow a phrase from Sarah Palin – you betcha’

    My mother’s parents came to this big city from Firebrick, Kentucky, the speech patterns of some of my Kentucky relatives are fluent in hillbilly. Almost without fail, they are Republicans but I have never seen the determination to force their values – or political opinions – on others as with Kim Davis. Her “religious” beliefs and values are her own; the fact that she ordered county employees to break the law should have legal consequences for her aside from her own disobeying the law. This is not the time to lose a job, any job, even one with a boss whose religious fanaticism is next to snake-handling. My heart-felt grief goes out to the license applicants and to the Rowan County Clerk’s office staff who can and will be able to do their job; putting personal beliefs aside. We don’t know what they will be subjected to but, if Joe Davis is any indication; their lives in the office and outside the government building will not be pleasant. This situation bears close scrutiny by Kentucky legal officials for their physical safety.

  24. JoAnne,

    You raised a good point about the employees in the Clerk’s Office. I don’t know the answer. That matter hasn’t been discussed in the media.

    Was there some one like your who probably wouldn’t go along? I’ll try to find that out. Thanks a lot.

  25. I have never heard of clerks refusing to process divorce papers despite the fact that is mentioned in the Bible. Hmmmm what else might be going on?

  26. The issues of Islamic Jurisprudence are well developed and documented. Here for instance from Wikipedia:

    “Fiqh (/fɪk/; Arabic: فقه‎ [fiqh]) is Islamic jurisprudence.[1] While Sharia is believed by Muslims to represent divine law as revealed in the Quran and the Sunnah (the teachings and practices of the Islamic prophet Muhammad), fiqh is the human understanding of the Sharia[2]—sharia expanded and developed by interpretation (ijtihad) of the Quran and Sunnah by Islamic jurists (Ulema)[2] and implemented by the rulings (Fatwa) of jurists on questions presented to them.”

    “Fiqh deals with the observance of rituals, morals and social legislation in Islam. In the modern era there are four prominent schools (madh’hab) of fiqh within Sunni practice and two (or three) within Shi’a practice. A person trained in fiqh is known as a Faqih (plural Fuqaha).[3]”

    As Christian countries at least until lately have not been theocracies there has been less pressure to develop Christian Jurisprudence.

    Now that many American minds are interpreting our Constitution to support theocracy perhaps some bright Christian scholars will write down what religious concepts they feel ought to be inacted by law so we can stop guessing.

  27. To be fair, I think that Ms. Davis’s position was that she wanted the Kentucky legislature to re-write the law that requires that marriage certificates have to have the clerk’s signature on them. That way (apparently in her mind) the marriage paperwork could go through without her stamp of approval on it. I do not believe that it was her (or her attorney’s position) that the state legislature could over rule the Constitution.

  28. Nobody will ever know but I suspect that her preacher asked her if she’d go to jail for Jesus. He didn’t tell her anything about contempt of court or that her option if she could no longer abide by her oath was to simply quit.

  29. Gopper, Ian and Pete: will you be joining Huckabee in his support for Davis? Let us know how that goes.

  30. Re: Kentucky, Republicans are saying 2 things. Oaths of office do not bind, and contempt of American courts and law should not have consequences.

  31. All Kim Davis is helping to prove is that 100% of Evangelical Americans failed Civics in High School.

  32. Amazing! I finally found something to agree with you. I’m adamantly opposed to capital punishment although I do not believe the Constitution prevents it. Therefore, I have always said I could not be governor (not that anyone is asking) because I would be compelled to commute every death sentence, which would be wrong on a state with capital punishment as an option

  33. Pete; Kim Davis’ preacher didn’t neglect to teach her about working in the Rowan County Clerk’s Office or neglect to ask her if she would go to jail for Jesus, she didn’t “get religion” till 4 years ago. She has worked as Deputy Clerk under her mother’s guidance in that office; she knew what the job as County Clerk entailed and the law required her to issue these marriage licenses. It was and continues to be HER choice to break the law; I suspect she sought this position (almost guaranteed of being elected) to do exactly what she has done. I also suspect she believed her word would become law because she believes SHE is right and all powerful after her mother’s 37 years of total control of that office.

  34. JoAnn: I didn’t say that I support her or that I agree with her position. I just identified what I thought was a mischaracterization of part of her position.

  35. Gary seems to have identified the heart of the issue: Kim Davis claims that her signature on a legal document somehow indicates her personal individual “approval” of a marital couple (as opposed to her clerical acknowledgement of meeting civil requirements). Surely in the many years she held this post, she has affixed her signature to many licenses for couples where she has had privately held reservations about the sanctity of the union (trophy wives, marriages to facilitate financial or other benefits, etc.) Will God hold her responsible for endorsing such unions?
    As far as legislating a religious exemption for clerks, we all look forward to the days when Catholic clerks can deny marriage licenses to the previously divorced, and Jewish clerks can deny licenses to marriages between Jews and gentiles, and of course clerks will be free to deny licenses to any couple where the woman is known to be a non-virgin.
    Get over it. Your signature as an agent of the county or the state is not the same as your personal endorsement of individual conscience.

  36. I’m unhappy fines are also not imposed. The arguement against is that “outside” groups wwill/are paying them. Cool. Bleed them dry. Money given to the state and not therefore available to other causes. I call that a win-win: for their opponents.

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