Liberty Counsel is a hate group and Mat Staver is a liar

October 7, 2015

A week ago Kim Davis’s lawyer, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, announced that she met privately with Pope Francis to thank her for her “courage” and encourage her to “stay strong.” The Vatican acknowledged that Pope Francis briefly met with her and others, but denied that he knew any specifics about her legal case or that he endorsed what she had done.

In assessing Mat Staver’s credibility, do you believe it would have been helpful to know that last year the Southern Poverty Law Center classified Liberty Counsel as a virulent homophobic hate group?

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center,

Founded in 1989 and based in Orlando, Fla., the Liberty Counsel is well known for its strident anti-LGBT rhetoric. Mat Staver, the group’s president, co-founder and former dean at the Liberty University School of Law, has claimed that with full marriage equality, everyone will decide to be gay and society will “cease to exist.” (He also has linked homosexuality to rampant increases in disease, falsely linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claimed that homosexuality is the result of childhood sexual abuse.)

Human Rights Campaign has identified five examples of his hatred for LGBT:

1. Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver said LGBT young people have “confusion” because of “the likes of a Jerry Sandusky abuser,” so they need to be cured by dangerous attempts to change their sexual orientation – a practice that has been condemned by every major medical and mental health organization in the country.

2. Liberty Counsel compared marriage equality to slavery and forced sterilization. Mat Staver said, “It’s shameful for the Supreme Court for what they have done to marriage as it has been shameful in the history of the court with regards to the Dred Scott decision or the Buck v. Bell decision, where they said that the state of Virginia can forcibly sterilize her because of this eugenics idea that they want to eliminate the undesirables of the world. That was the shameful day that we ultimately look back with shame upon and I think this is going to be one of those same kind of situations.”

3. Liberty Counsel has claimed that LGBT hate crimes protections are part of the “radical homosexual anarchist agenda.” Laws aimed at preventing anti-LGBT bias motivated crimes “trample the free exercise of religion,” according to Mat Staver. “Pedophiles find refuge in this so-called hate crimes bill, while veterans and grandmas are left to fend for themselves.”

4. Liberty Counsel calls a bill that would protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination, “one of the most dangerous and discriminatory pieces of legislation in modern times.”  According to them, prohibiting employers from discriminating against an employee for being LGBT is actually forcing them to “abandon the biblical and traditional values” in order to protect “those who openly flaunt expressly sinful and demonstrably self-destructive sexual behavior.”

5. Liberty Counsel thinks being LGBT is not only a health hazard, but is also just like being a drug addict, which justifies legal discrimination. They actually said, “Laws that single out those who want to engage in a harmful behavior, like drug laws that discriminate against heroin users, are not unlawful discrimination but rather compassionate public policy.”

On the subject of lying, Media Matters reports,

Since Davis’ release from jail, Liberty Counsel has been embroiled in several PR controversies, almost exclusively attributable to Staver’s own incompetence. During the September 17 edition of Liberty Counsel’s Faith and Freedom broadcast, Staver claimed that the hosts of ABC’s The View had called for Kim Davis to be killed, a blatant falsehood he was later forced to apologize for.

A few weeks later, while speaking at the conservative Values Voter Summit, Staver displayed a picture of what he claimed was a 100,000-person prayer rally in Lima, Peru for Davis. The photo was met with immediate suspicion from media commentators, who could find no evidence on social media that such a massive rally had taken place. After days of doubling down, attacking its critics, and revising its defense of the photo’s authenticity, Liberty Counsel was forced to admit that the image actually came from a completely unrelated event in 2014, calling the mix-up “an honest mistake.”

Mat Staver is a liar and the only way to deal with a liar is to assume that they are lying unless independent evidence confirms what they say.

Ignorance doesn’t mix with AK47s

September 11, 2015

The Oath Keepers are on their way to Kentucky to protect Kim Davis from United States District Court Judge David Bunning. When he released her from jail on Tuesday, he ordered her not to interfere with her deputy clerks issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. She said she would not do anything that would violate her conscience. She would be in compliance with his order if she does not do anything when a deputy clerk issues a marriage license to a same sex couple. Only she knows whether standing by and not doing anything, if a deputy clerk issues a license, would violate her conscience and cause her to act.

Stewart Rhodes, the founder of Oath Keepers, explains why he believes his group of armed former cops and military veterans should go to Rowan County to protect her. Raw Story reports,

In a press release published on their website, the group says they have been in contact with Davis’ attorney, Mat Staver, and are acting because Judge David Bunning “grossly overstepped his bounds and violated Mrs Davis’ due process rights, and in particular her right to a jury trial.”

Rhodes does not know what he is talking about. Davis did not have a right to a jury trial or any sort of trial because he held her in contempt for refusing to comply with his order to issue marriage licenses. She was accorded due process of law because she was given an opportunity to explain why she refused to issue the licenses pursuant to Obergefell v. Hodges and she was permitted to appeal his decision rejecting her argument to the Sixth Circuit and to the United States Supreme Court. After she lost those appeals and still refused to issue the licenses, he ordered her to show cause why he should not hold her in contempt of court. He held her in contempt when she presented the same lame losing argument. Freedom of religion is not a license for an elected official to discriminate against others in violation of their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection of the laws.

He ordered her to jail until she or her deputy clerks issued the marriage licenses that the plaintiff couples had requested. He released her after those licenses were issued.

This situation is not complicated. If another same-sex couple applies for a marriage license and she refuses to permit her deputy clerks to issue them a license, she can reasonably expect Judge Bunning will again order her to appear in court to show cause why he should not hold her in contempt. If she offers the same lame excuse, he will order her back to jail until the license is issued. That is the nature of civil contempt and that is why judges and lawyers say that the person held in contempt has the key to the jailhouse door.

Rhodes and company want to ride to her rescue with AK47s and recreate a Bundy ranch standoff scenario. They would be better served if they put down their guns and read up on civil contempt.

Freedom of Religion is not a license to discriminate against others

September 4, 2015

I received the following comment regarding my article yesterday titled, Kim Davis, Clerk of the Rowan County Circuit Court, held in contempt and ordered into custody.

I mean is she really wrong? What im saying is , we tend to fall asleep until let’s say some stupid politician makes some law that insults or could harm our life or may be our children’s future. And like Kim, it awakes us. I mean let’s be real. I don’t trust politicians. But I understand her. It probably frighten her . to give or contribute to an abomination. Its frightening.

The comment posted to my pending file because the person had not previously posted a comment and been approved. For reasons that will become clear, the comment offended me and I felt compelled to respond to it. Here is my response.

I think your comment is offensive. I do not believe that same-sex marriage is an abomination, mostly because I have known many gay males and lesbian women during my adult life. For example, when I moved into Seattle to be closer to work in the early 80s, I rented an apartment on Capitol Hill that was within walking distance to downtown and the state and federal courthouses where I practiced law. I soon discovered that I was living in the heart of the gay and lesbian community. I was the only straight male in my apartment building. Over the next week or so, I ran into quite a few lawyers and several judges in the neighborhood whom I knew from work. They lived there. I suddenly realized they were homosexual. They weren’t quite sure what to make of me since I was obviously straight, but since I was on their turf by choice they figured I wasn’t prejudiced. They welcomed me to the neighborhood. They made no effort to pretend they were straight and within a short period of time they began to introduce me around to their friends. I was a little uncomfortable at first but I got over it quickly They were good people and they showed a genuine interest in getting to know me. I ended up forming many lasting friendships.

It didn’t take me very long to realize that gay males aren’t sexually interested in straight males, just as straight males aren’t sexually interested in gay males.

As time went by, I got to know their significant others, people they would have married. but for the fact that the law did not allow it. All of this was happening during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 80s. Several people I knew died of AIDS. This was a terrible time that I will never forget. Many of their families had long ago rejected them and they only had themselves to turn to for comfort. That really pissed me off. Often a sick and dying person’s partner could not even visit their dying partner in a hospital or obtain any information about their condition because the were not “family.” Eventually, hospices were created on Capitol Hill to permit them to pass in dignity with their partners and friends present.

As a result of these experiences, I have been a firm supporter of equal rights for lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people for many years. Yes, indeed, I support same-sex marriage and proudly so. I celebrated and shed more than a few tears when the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decided <em>Obergefell v. Hodges</em> back in June. At long last, the SCOTUS held that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits laws that discriminate against gays and lesbians. Therefore, laws that prohibit same-sex marriage violate the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Freedom of Religion Clause of the First Amendment is misunderstood by most Americans. It prohibits Congress from making any law regarding the establishment of a religion. Many of our Founding Fathers were atheists who wanted a prohibition in the Constitution prohibiting the government from endorsing any religion or religious view. This prohibition is the basis for the doctrine of separation of church and state. People who claim nothing in the Constitution authorizes the separation of church and state are absolutely wrong.

Freedom of religion means that a person can hold any religious belief they desire. They can even claim a religious basis to hate on blacks, women, Muslims, lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender, Latinos, the poor, and any other person or group they don’t like. However, that does not mean that they can assault, murder, enslave or discriminate against them, even if they can point to some passage in the Bible that approves of doing so. For example, the Bible says God told Moses and the Israelites to slaughter everyone in Jericho and all the Canaanites. A person in this country today is not going to be able to beat a murder charge for killing a Palestinian living here on the ground that the Bible condones what he did. Similarly, a person cannot claim a religious exemption to a murder charge because they believe in the Old Testament <em>lex talionis</em>, an eye for an eye and killed someone in an act of revenge.

Kim Davis is the elected Clerk of the Rowan County Circuit Court. Issuing marriage licenses is one of her duties. If she truly believes her religious beliefs won’t permit her to do that, then she should resign her position.

Instead, she claims a religious right to discriminate. As I said, the Freedom of Religion Clause only applies to beliefs. It cannot be used as a sword to justify doing something that the law prohibits or refusing to do something that the law requires. Therefore, she can’t discriminate against same-sex couples who want to get married by refusing to issue them a marriage license.

In addition, while I do not pretend to be a Biblical scholar, I do not believe homosexuality is forbidden. Homosexuality has been around forever and in ancient Egypt it was accepted. Same thing in Greece. Alexander the Great, a military genius and fierce warrior who conquered the known world (Egypt, Persia and India) around 330 BC was a homosexual and no one thought any less of him for that. Nevertheless, even if God supposedly called it a sin, which I seriously doubt, that still does not give any person a right to discriminate against gays.

She took her best shot at convincing a judge that she was right. She lost in the United States District Court and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The United States Supreme Court declined to consider her appeal. She has exhausted her legal options and now she is refusing to do her job while selfishly imposing her religious beliefs on other people. She also wants to become a martyr.

Kim Davis is not a hero and she is definitely not a martyr. She’s a bigot imposing her deeply held prejudices on others and for that reason she deserves no sympathy. She is literally contemptible and deserves to be exactly where she is: the Rowan County Jail.

Kim Davis, Clerk of the Rowan County Circuit Court, held in contempt and ordered into custody

September 3, 2015

Kim Davis is the Clerk of the Rowan County Circuit Court, an elected position. Despite taking an oath to enforce the Constitution and the laws of the United States and the State of Kentucky, which requires her to issue marriage licenses, she has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She claims that she would violate her religious beliefs, if she were to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple. To avoid the appearance of discriminating against same-sex couples, she decided to refuse to issue any marriage licenses. No one has been fooled by this strategy.

In June the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) held that laws which prohibit same-sex marriage violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, Obergefell v. Hodges, (June 16, 2015). Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy said,

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

Ms. Davis’s argument is ridiculous because she is claiming that, even though she is an elected public official, her First Amendment right to freedom of religion means she can discriminate against same-sex couples on religious grounds by refusing to issue them a marriage license despite her legal duty to so under Kentucky law and their Fourteenth Amendment right to get married under Obergefell. If public officials are free to discriminate against people on religious grounds, the Fourteenth Amendment would cease to have any meaning.

Moreover, she is out of options. She already lost this argument back in June after the SCOTUS decided Obergefell and a same-sex couple sued her in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky seeking an order directing her to issue them a marriage license. Judge David Bunning rejected her religious-freedom argument and ordered her to issue the license. She appealed to the Sixth Circuit and lost. Her application for review by the SCOTUS was rejected.

Now, she’s back in front of  Judge Bunning, who has ordered her to show cause why he shouldn’t hold her in contempt of court for continuing to refuse to obey his order to issue a marriage license to same-sex couples.

I do not believe there is any question that he is going to hold her in contempt. She is in contempt. The question is what is he going to do about it.

He can fine her a certain sum of money per day until she complies with his order or he could send her to jail where she would remain until she agrees to issue the licenses. Alternatively, she could resign.

I would send her to jail until she agrees to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, or she agrees to resign. I would not fine her because the fine probably would be paid by a right-wing GoFundMe internet site.

Meanwhile, at the hearing today, according to Matt Iglesias at Think Progress, her deputy clerks are willing to issue the licenses, but they are afraid to do so. As the County Attorney Cecil Watkins told Kentucky Court Trial Review, “Davis, does not represent” the county or its values, and he added that he told Davis that he “will not and cannot support” her in her refusal to obey the Constitution.

In an editorial note accompanying its reporting, the Trial Court Review paints a grim picture of life in the Rowan County courthouse after Davis began a symbol of anti-gay defiance. “The takeaways from the Watkins interview are clear. Davis is acting alone in her zealous mission. Her conduct has terrorized not just her staff but everyone that works in the courthouse. And all for a foolish mission aided by out of state charlatan lawyers trying to raise money for their ‘religious liberty’ mission.”

Former Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, a candidate for the Republican nomination for President in 2016, announced yesterday that he supports Davis. He said the Bible is supreme to the SCOTUS,

Judge Bunning just held her in contempt and ordered her into federal custody where she will remain until she agrees to issue the marriage licenses. He rejected the idea of a fine in part because others would pay it for her.

In effect, she has the keys to the jailhouse door.




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