What if Kim Davis Refused to License Marriages of Inter-Racial Couples?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Kentucky court clerk Kim Davis was released from prison on Tuesday after having been jailed for 5 days for contempt of court because she will not issue marriage licenses to her gay constituents. Her release was turned into a circus by Mike Huckabee, seeking a way to kickstart his failed presidential bid.

But would Huckabee be defending her if she were denying licenses to inter-racial couples who want to marry? That is not a far-fetched scenario. A small Baptist church in Kentucky voted in 2011 not to allow inter-racial couples to be members. Kentucky.com reported:

“Harville said his daughter Stella Harville, who is pursuing a master’s degree in optical engineering at a school in Indiana, brought her fiancé, Ticha Chikuni, to church in June and played the piano as he sang.

The couple performed I Surrender All, said Stella Harville, who is 24.

Chikuni, 29, who works at Georgetown College, is black. He is a native of Zimbabwe.

The pastor forbade them to sing again and then staged a vote against their joining the church, which he won. What if Kim Davis belonged to that church and refused to issue a license to that couple? Would she be a hero?

In fact, Southern lawmakers tried to insert a religious exception into the 1964 Civil Rights Law, which would have gutted it by allowing discrimination by religious bigots. In the case that provoked Loving vs Virginia, (1967) a grand jury indicted a mixed-race couple in that state and a lower court judge actually wrote:

“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And, but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriage. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

Malay? That was a race you couldn’t marry into? Who knew?

That man held his religious beliefs as sincerely as Kim Davis. What if his counterpart of today was in Davis’s position and refused to issue licenses on grounds of what was then called the crime of miscegenation? Would Huckabee crow about it? Would Cruz?

Huckabee said making Davis issue the licenses to gay couples against her Christian conscience violates American democracy. But the US is a republic with a rule of law, not a demagogic ‘democracy’ of fundamentalist mob rule. The Founding Fathers were afraid of rabble-rousers like Huckabee and Ted Cruz, which is why we have a senate and an electoral college. They were also afraid of Christians imposing their will on deists and non-conformists (like Quakers), which is why they put the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment. That clause has now been adopted by all the state constitutions, too.

Davis is an elected state official. She is trying to use her government position to impose her religious views on gay citizens of her district. To paint her as standing up to the government is weird. She is violating the prohibition on state officials establishing an official church. And she is discriminating against her own constituents, as surely as if she were refusing to licence inter-racial marriages — which were illegal in some states until the SCOTUS Loving ruling.

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

The Young Turks: “Anti-Gay Bully Kim Davis Throws Post-Prison Pity Party”

18 Responses

  1. On Sunday Morning Huckabee tried to make the argument that this Supreme Court ruling should not be obeyed in the same fashion Lincoln disobeyed the Dred Scott decision.
    The host then asked if denying rights to gays to marry was not similar to denying blacks and whites to marry? Huckabee said “No. They are entirely different!”

    So to recap, Huckabee thinks gays being allowed to marry is akin to blacks not being counted as a person but does not think laws against interracial marriage can be compared to not allowing same sex partners to marry.

    This is why it’s a losing cause to argue with a religious zealot.

  2. “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And, but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriage. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

    Does that also mean that God didn’t intend for the white man to “discover” the Americas? You have to love the selective interpretation of God’s will/the Bible by these evangelical dummies.

  3. In 1878, the United States Supreme Court ruled, unanimously, that the Constitution guarantees freedom of religious belief but religious practice must not violate the law. That decision pertained to polygamy.

    Government employment is voluntary; duty is obligatory.

  4. I’d be more charitable in my opinion of her, if she had been refused a marriage license for 3 of her 4 weddings.

    On religious grounds, of course.

    Of course, her, and the other cafeteria Xtians, will cry about being persecuted. Jesus wept.

  5. Would Kim Davis and her supporters be upset with the Muslim grocery store cashier who would not ring up her ham. The Kim Davis of America lose sleep at night worrying that Muslims will have observance of Sharia law amended to our constitution. If adding Sharia law were to be included into our American legal governance, would Kim Davis realize how she and her congregation greased the skits to allow this to happen. As the old saying goes, watch what you wish for. The judge who threw her in jail should know by now how he created a martyr and a celebrity all at one time. This judge gave Kim Davis the biggest thrill of her confused biblical existence, by giving her jail time. This whole thing is dangerous to the American way of life. If anything the gays, and minorities, strengthen individuals rights, while Kim Davis marginalized those very same rights. Like Dr Cole stated there is a clear division between church and state, and we would all be wise to keep it that way.

    • The message is, only fanatical Christians have real consciences. Gays don’t. Moslems don’t. Atheists don’t.

    • What if a conservative Catholic refused to give divorced persons (like Ms. Davis) a marriage license? The Catholic Church does not recognize divorce so according to their teachings a divorced person is committing bigamy.

  6. Given the fact (according to snopes.com) that Kim Davis has been married four times this appears to be another case of selective religious bias. What would she or Mike Huckabee have said if some very devout Catholic had refused her one of her, presumably, three divorces?

    Woe is the United States with theocrats, neo-fascists and proto-fascists trying to take over.

  7. If we consider the number of religions and sects and variants within each religion it would be sheer anarchy to try to organize a society based on religion. I would pity residents of Rowan County in Kentucky of they were of a different faith than Ms. Davis. Despite the hypocrisy attached to much of American law, the United States is not the disaster that Europe was during several centuries of religious wars.

  8. Juan, you started off this article by saying, “Her release was turned into a circus by Mike Huckabee, seeking a way to kickstart his failed presidential bid.”

    For what it’s worth, I get the impression that Huckabee is not running a presidential bid, but a fund raising operation disguised as a presidential bid. I don’t know how successful it’s been so far, but I am not sure I would refer to it as “failed”. He’s run this operation before and it appears to pay off for him.

  9. What if the Obama Administration, citing the core Christian belief of taking care of the less fortunate, ignored Supreme Court rulings regarding ObamaCare? If Kim Davis gets to pick and choose which laws she follows based on her self-proclaimed religious beliefs, can President Obama do the same?

    Oh, I forgot – rights are only for the Right.

    • Totally with you on the selection bias. I don’t see these religious fanatics protesting against Red Lobster or the Gap; after all shell fish and mixing different fabrics are also forbidden in the same Leviticus they use to justify their anti-gay bigotry. Not to mention that per the same book you’re not supposed to shave your face as well; so seems Huckabee is also en route to hell himself.

  10. Relax y’all, St. Kim Davis, the patron saint of corporate-controlled media distractions returns to work on Monday the 14th of September.

    In the mean time, Friday is shopping day. Hickory Stripe Bib Overalls are on sale and solid color muu muu dresses are a bargain at $9, as well. Gotta look good for the next Republican Presidential candidate who wants to exploit these folks.

  11. If it’s not the rights of gay citizens, it’s something else. The question we must ask is, how can we share a country with an army of white Christian capitalist fanatics who will keep making our lives miserable until we surrender all power to them? How long can we live in a state of siege never knowing when their next crusade is going to hit us?

    When do we start finding ways to genuinely hurt them for all the crap they do to punish us for hurting their bloated pride as “real” Americans? Has the time come to disinvest in Red State America along with its 51st State, Israel?

  12. I’m from Canada where we’ve legazlied same-sex marriage for years now, and there were no earthquakes, great floods or any other catastrophe. Huckabee and his ilk just want a Christian version of Sharia state; a Christian theocracy. Thankfully they’re a dying generation; yet another “culture war” the Christian Right has lost. There’s not enough old, white, conservative men left to win them elections by just playing to the base. Fighting a losing battle on social issues is political suicide.

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