An Unnecessary and Bogus Martyrdom

I said my basic piece on the Kim Davis case yesterday, but after listening to some smart people talk about it, I think it’s important to note that it’s not the plaintiffs in this case, and not the U.S. Supreme Court or gay people or “liberals,” but one federal judge (an appointee of George W. Bush and the son of former GOP Sen. Jim Bunning, as it happens) and Davis herself who are insisting on her being in jail.

The judge offered Davis the opportunity to let her deputies handle marriage licenses, but she basically said the Bible required her to interfere with that licensing no matter who was doing it. He then had the option of fining her or issuing a mandatory injunction on her office, but chose to send her to the slammer instead.

It’s not clear how this will play out. As Amanda Marcotte pointed out at TPMCafe yesterday, opponents of gay marriage are not necessarily rallying around Davis, who just isn’t very appealing martyrdom material. On the other hand, Ted Cruz went very publicly nuts on the subject:

Today, judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny. Today, for the first time ever, the government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith. This is wrong. This is not America.

I stand with Kim Davis. Unequivocally. I stand with every American that the Obama Administration is trying to force to choose between honoring his or her faith or complying with a lawless court opinion….

Those who are persecuting Kim Davis believe that Christians should not serve in public office. That is the consequence of their position. Or, if Christians do serve in public office, they must disregard their religious faith-or be sent to jail….

I call upon every Believer, every Constitutionalist, every lover of liberty to stand with Kim Davis. Stop the persecution now.”

You will note that amidst the brimstone Cruz is (a) suggesting that the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision, being “lawless,” is not binding; and (b) implying that all Christians think like Kim Davis.

It would be nice if everyone calmed down and Bunning and the Rowan County Clerk’s office figured out a way for marriage licenses to be issued and the jail door opened for Kim Davis, whose “martyrdom” would be exposed as a fraud as she resisted freedom. But if she insists on playing George Wallace, somebody’s got to play Nick Katzenbach and insist on justice being served after she’s made her disreputable point.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.