05 September 2015

UPDATED: Three Kentucky County Clerks Are Not Issuing Marriage Licenses. Why Is Kim Davis the Only in Jail and the Only One You Know About?

I noted yesterday that Kim Davis is not the only county clerk in Kentucky who is not issuing marriage licenses in the wake of the Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges. The Washington Post reports that "two other clerks in Kentucky have taken a similar stand," though it does not provide the names of the other two clerks or what is meant by "similar." Even so, Davis seems to be the only one facing the wrath of the courts. Davis seems to be the only one facing the condemnation of the media. Davis is the only sitting in jail. Why?

The answer, I suspected, had something to do with Davis' past, but I did not want to believe the media could be so fickle and full of spite (though I know they have been, often are, and will likely continue to be in the future). Davis has been married and divorced several times. This, I suspected, was the reason the focus is on her, but I didn't want to believe it to be true. After all, her opponents are the ones always crying for tolerance and love and acceptance. Her opponents are the ones always condemning any sign of hypocrisy. How, then, and why, could they be so intolerant, so hateful, so un-accepting - so hypocritical - in their reactions to Davis' following of her conscience, which they frequently tell us we have to do?

Writing in The Federalist a few days ago and only seen by me this morning, Mollie Hemingway explored this very question. After noting that Davis' divorces and marriages took place before her conversation as an Apostolic Christian (which is no small misnomer, but that's a question for another day), which means she her refusal to issue marriage licenses now is not a matter of hypocrisy:
Now, any personal failings on her part are actually irrelevant to her legal argument, however much fun the media has in slut-shaming her. But I am hard-pressed to understand how she can be a hypocrite for failing to perfectly adhere to teachings of a religion she wasn’t even part of! Hypocrisy isn’t failing to practice what you preach. Hypocrisy is pretending to have beliefs that you don’t actually have.
After providing a large number of examples of the media attacking Davis because of her past (which bears no real impact on the fundamental question at hand, that is, of the free exercise of religion),  Hemingway goes on to note - quite rightly - that 
Ms. Davis has a record of Biblical transgressions. So do we all. She will continue to sin in the years to come. What she has found in her conversion to Christianity, however, is forgiveness of sins. Regardless of the media’s strong views in favor of redefining marriage to include same-sex couples, it would be nice if they took the time to at least understand this central teaching of the Christian faith before attempting to report on it.
Is it possible that the other two County Clerks in Kentucky who, like Davis, are not issuing marriage licenses do not have such a questionable past and so are not ripe targets for the media? The evidence so far seems to indicate an affirmative response. If you have evidence to the contrary, please provide it. It might be, for example, that the other two clerks are allowing their staffs to issue marriage licenses (I simply don't know and have not yet found the information).

We have now seen why the most frequent attack against Davis, that she is a hypocrite, is unfounded. What, then, about the hypocrisy of the media? For this, I turn to the blog of a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America in a post where she explains why she can't hate Kim Davis.
Nancy acknowledges her support of the LGBT movement and agrees that Davis should now be in jail. Still, she is trouble because, as she says, many of those who disagree with Davis and support same-sex marriage - and many others on what is normally seen as "the Left" - "seem to thrive on having someone to hate." She continues:
Because we perceive ourselves as open-minded, loving people, our hate must be justified, so we demonize the object of our hatred as someone who is pure evil, through and through. But folks, there is no truth in the demonization of others. The truth is, there is evil in each of us, just as there is good in each of us.
The demonization of Kim Davis helps otherwise kind people rationalize the venom they spew about her. There are tweets going around that have supposedly been sent from the person who works next to her. They are shared as if they are proof that the woman is crazy. I’m having trouble understanding how that might justify hating her, even if it were true. A lot of folks have made a huge deal out of the fact that she was married four times. It’s viewed as a sign of her hypocrisy about what constitutes a Biblical marriage, and that may well be. But if we’re going to start hating everyone who is hypocritical, we’d better avoid mirrors. As a person who has been divorced twice, when I heard she had been married four times, I felt compassion for her. No doubt, as someone who considers herself a Christian, her divorces are a source of great shame in her life. Attacking her shame is certainly an effective way to hurt her, if that is the goal. Those of us who have been publically [sic] shamed by others know that all too well.
Powerful words, these.

Kim Davis is not the only county clerk in Kentucky not issuing marriage licenses. We do not know about them, but - thanks to the investigative reporting of the media - we know about Davis' past because the media wants to use her failures to argue against her stand.


A friend from college, who blogs at Brian's Coffeehouse, asked a good question on Facebook:
Did the media originate the story, or did they report on it because it was high-profile due to the court cases? The first I heard of this was when the Supreme Court weighed in. It is the judge who is saying she must be kept in jail.
I don't know the answer to this question because I haven't followed this story from the beginning; I've only been catching up on it over the last couple of days. Do you know the answer to his question?

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