It finally arrived.
Liberty Counsel recently announced that Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, the Kentucky official who refused to sign marriage licenses for gay couples because it supposedly violated her Christian beliefs, had written a memoir (or had a book ghost-written for her, I should say).
It’s called Under God’s Authority and you’re damn right I ordered a copy. (The things I do for you people…)
Alright. Enough prelude. Here are the biggest takeaways from the book. Be sure to read through #8.
1) In the foreword, Mike Huckabee sets up her story as one of Christian persecution, as if she spent six days in jail because of her Christian beliefs and not because she, as a government agent, refused to follow the law.
We now face the criminalization of Christianity in this country. The moral and religious convictions by which we, as followers of Jesus, lead our lives are under attack as never before in the history of this great republic.
No Christian is in jail in the U.S. because of his or her beliefs. No church/state separation group has ever called for someone to go to jail over a particular religious belief. Kim Davis was put in jail because she wouldn’t do her job even after a court order, choosing instead to get in the way of people who had a legal right to a marriage license.
2) Both Davis and Huckabee go on and on about how Pope Francis met with her to express his support. Huckabee even said the Pope “endorsed her stand.” That’s literally not what the Vatican said. They claimed the Pope was duped into meeting her, and the man who set up that meeting was later fired.
Yet Davis has an entire chapter dedicated to that meeting and she dismisses any critics who say he wasn’t supporting her “right of conscientious objection.” She insists the Pope wouldn’t have met with her unless he knew who she was… which is not at all how the Pope’s schedule works. Much like a president, he’s at the mercy of his staff, who tell him where to go and what to do. In this case, the Pope put his trust in someone who wanted him to dive into the culture wars, something he tries to avoid.
3) It’s not a surprise that Davis paints herself as the victim in all of this. She acts like gay people are the villains for trying to get her to legitimize their marriages… even though they really didn’t give a damn about her and just needed the clerk to sign their paperwork, verifying that all the information on their license was accurate. Davis felt her signature constituted an endorsement of the marriage and promoted a “separate but equal” kind of policy.
To me, it was all a show. If all these two men wanted was a marriage license, they could have driven a half hour to a neighboring county and obtained one. But they had an agenda. I wasn’t just to get a marriage license. It was to make a Christian woman sign and issue it. They wanted to make me bow down — to accept and acknowledge them as a legitimate married couple. And that I wasn’t going to do.
They didn’t have a choice. If they wanted a marriage license, they could only get it through the county clerk, and there’s no reason to force them to drive to another location just because Davis was having a hissy fit about doing her job. (The same rule applies to pharmacists who don’t want to dispense birth control. Suck it up and do your job.)
Davis was welcome to maintain her bigotry as long as she signed the papers. She wouldn’t. And the reason the couples went to her instead of anyone else was because they “owned property and paid taxes in Rowan County.” It’s not like they were out to get her.
4) This was news to me: The Rowan County attorney told her very clearly that she was on her own. The county’s insurance provider wasn’t going to pay any part of a potential legal bill because she wasn’t listening to the attorney’s advice. From that point forward, this book became a long advertisement for Liberty Counsel, ghost-written by two people working for Liberty Counsel. They’re using her to fundraise for themselves and she has no idea she’s just a pawn.
5) Davis alleges that gay and lesbian couples sued her because they wanted “a lucrative payday.” That’s not true. Most lawsuits of this nature call on the losing side to pay for the winner’s legal bills as well as “compensatory and punitive damages.” Since the ACLU was representing those clients, it’s not like any money would’ve gone in their pockets. I’ve known a number of atheists who filed church/state separation lawsuits against their local governments. None of them did it for the cash. (In many cases, the judges awarded them a symbolic $1.00.)
6) Here’s something I didn’t know. Davis took over the county clerk position that her mother held for 37 years. She squeaked past the Democrats in the primary by “a mere 23 votes” (and yes, at the time, she was a Democrat). She later won the general election with only 53% of the vote.
Voting matters, people. If you don’t vote, the other side will.
7) Davis hears voices. At one point, she talks about how she stopped attending church, but God kept trying to get through to her.
… I had a friend with me and the radio was off when I heard someone speak my name, “Kimberly,” in a deep resonant voice.
Startled, I looked around and asked my friend, “Did you hear that?”
“Hear what?” she asked, with a skeptical laugh.
There are just two people who call me Kimberly, my dad, and one other person. Neither were anywhere near at that moment.
“Okay, Lord,” I said. As strange as it sounds, I knew He had just called my name.
Uh-huh. It was totally God. (Can someone get Joy Behar on the line?)
8) Davis finally describes her multiple marriages and you may need a flow chart to follow it.
I was all of 18 when I first walked down the aisle in 1984 to marry my high school sweetheart. We had two children… but separated in November 1993 and divorced shortly afterwards. In the wake of our split, I met another man and soon became pregnant, giving birth to our twins… Things did not work out with the twins’ father and I was a single mother of four in June 1996 when I met Joe Davis…
Joe and I divorced in 2006 after ten years of marriage. That divorce, my second, was a bitter split with a lot of hurtful things said and done on both sides. Just over a year later, I married the father of my twins… But I was back in divorce court less than a year later to end that marriage. Nine months after that, Joe and I reconciled and remarried…
To recap: She married Husband 1, had twins with Husband 3, divorced Husband 1, married Husband 2, divorced Husband 2, married Husband 3, divorced husband 3, and remarried Husband 2.
Just like Jesus wanted.
How does she justify her personal life with the whole “sanctity of marriage” thing? Simple. “God still wasn’t in the picture” until Husband 2’s mother died and they went back to church in 2011. So she wasn’t hypocritical, you guys; she just wasn’t really a Christian yet.
In fact, she chalks up that whole hypocrisy charge to “divine irony.” God took a woman married four times and used her to defend marriage against the gays. Isn’t that so mysterious of Him?!
9) Davis repeatedly invokes the hypocrisy of the Kentucky government. In 2014, before the Obergefell decision, a judge ruled that Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The state could appeal the decision, but Attorney General Jack Conway refused to do it, saying it violated his conscience and that discrimination was wrong. The Democratic governor didn’t challenge his reasoning and hired outside lawyers to appeal the ruling instead, ultimately costing the state about $260,000. (It was a dumb decision on the governor’s part.)
Davis wanted the same sort of accommodation. If the attorney general could refuse to do his job due to his conscience, so could she, right? But the comparison doesn’t actually hold up. For one, Kim Davis refusing to do her job meant people couldn’t get legally married. Jack Conway refusing to appeal the ruling meant… nothing, really. He felt an appeal would have been futile — something he has a professional responsibility to say — and he chose not to fight it. If the state’s attorney general felt discrimination wasn’t going to fly in court, it was his job to say so. Kim Davis wasn’t in the same situation.
Incidentally, Davis eventually cost the taxpayers $220,000 in legal fees. She paid absolutely nothing out of pocket despite saying in the book that The Gays wanted to “punish me financially.”
10) Kim Davis wants you to know she loves The Gays.
… I wrap my arms around my gay friends and hug them and love them as well as I do anybody else. They are precious people made in God’s image. And I love them.
Uh-huh. And I’m sure they all love you back.
11) Davis was in the audience for President Obama‘s final State of the Union address — who knew — and expressed doubts about Obama’s faith. In a section noting his infamous evolution on marriage equality, she says she can’t believe how someone “who claimed to be a Christian” could support same-sex marriage.
I guess that means the 35% of white evangelicals who currently support marriage equality aren’t True Christians™ either. Nope. You have to oppose marriage equality and count your marriages using tally marks to be on God’s good side.
12) Davis repeatedly mentions a man named David Ermold who, with his partner, kept asking for a marriage license knowing full well she wouldn’t give them one. They came back to her office multiple times, always with reporters to document the discrimination.
She doesn’t say this in the book, but Ermold is running to become the Rowan County clerk. He wants to unseat her. Now that would be divine irony.
You can support his campaign here.