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The tide has turned, Tide reminds us:
Whether justified or Kim Davis-ed, individualistic rage rarely outplays broader truths
In his 2011 book The War For Late Night, Bill Carter tells a story that really resonated with me. It's a private conversation between Conan O'Brien and a top NBC executive. The conversation took place after it was clear that Jay Leno was not really leaving his Tonight Show perch in Conan's hands, as had been promised, but during the short window thereafter, when NBC was still offering Conan some sort of a concession prize. This executive, who had worked with Conan for years, was advising his friend to take the network offer rather than leave in some angry blaze of glory. This executive's point was that NBC would always be NBC, and that they were going to come out the other side unscathed no matter what Conan did or how much public outcry he engendered. This executive conceded that Conan had been treated unfairly and would earn this kind of folk hero support, which he was already building at the time, but the executive further said this large scale, headline-grabbing goodwill would be unsustainable, and that Conan would ultimately lose.
I'm paraphrasing all this, but I remember the whole thing as not coming across in a gross, "we are your corporate overlords" way, but just in the manner of a friend speaking the gospel to another friend about a vast enterprise with a deep bench. He was telling Conan that all of the people who worked at NBC—himself, the late night host, and everyone else—were just players on a much bigger stage, and that the stage existed well before them all and would exist long after. It wasn't to dehumanize or dispirit the talented late night host, but rather to give him fair warning about a familiar script he'd seen play out before.
And this scenario is pretty much what came to pass. While Conan—who, I should say, I adore and who was my late night crush of the nineties—has gone on to his own success on TBS, NBC largely weathered the Tonight Show storm. Jimmy Fallon is rocking it in the ratings and with the critics. Newer fans, like my thirteen-year-old nephew who is downright enamored with Fallon, don't even realize that Conan ever hosted this show, much less that he hosted an NBC show for sixteen years before that. NBC has pretty much erased this long history, at least for the time being. While Conan's much ballyhooed exit is well documented in books and documentaries and interviews, it's now more of an interesting historical record than it is anything that will continue to hurt NBC. NBC remains bigger than any of its parts, missteps, or protestors.
Which brings me to Kim Davis. And Baronelle Stutzman. And that baker from Oregon. And the myriad other photographers and innkeepers and shop owners who the far-right has held up as martyrs for being defiant in the face of the law. These are all examples of people who glommed on to their "folk hero" status, sold to them by opportunistic activists and ridiculously agenda-driven "legal" outfits, and who seem to think that they will win if they keep on long enough.
But they never win. Every time any of these defiant individuals have gone to court, they have lost. Kim Davis is now sitting in a jail cell, while others have seen massive fines levied again them. They. Never. Win. They have to comply with nondiscrimination laws or alter their business. Their offices ultimately have to marry same-sex couples. They have to find new work if they can't operate within the parameters of law. Etcetera, and so on. This, even though groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom and the comparably more ghoulish Liberty Counsel promise them the world (to say nothing of the afterlife).
Sure, they get all kinds of acclaim from conserve-twitter and Fox News. And yes, some of them have hauled in some cash. But okay, whatever; that's not sustainable. Maybe they pay off some of the fines, but what good is that when you've forever connected your name to discrimination? And in many of these cases, I'm skeptical of how much the payday really ended up being. Even if it is, the fleeting burst of whatever does nothing to change the outcome when it comes to their business practices, the law, or the right-side-of-history's prevalence.
They don't win because the Constitution is bigger than them. They don't win because the truth ultimately wins out. They don't win because, try as they might, the destruction of the wall between church and state is not something that can buy with their insubordination. They don't win because are just human beings pining for the feel-good fifteen minutes and all that comes with it, while the network of carefully shaped, ably argued, duly contested, fairly enacted policies that they are challenging are in place for right and rational reasons that are far more important than the latest news cycle.
And what's truly ironic is that these anti-gay martyr stories, which pop up about every other month these days, are always built around the premise that the individual in the spotlight is serving a larger being. They pretend that the whole thing is about God and faith and eternity, not the individual. But every time—every. single. time.—they lose sight of the fact that there is, indeed, a mortal force here on the ground that is, in fact, bigger and stronger than them. They get so caught up in the whole charade that they seem to forget that they are earthlings who exist in a country with certain guidelines that have standards of challenge higher than simple stubbornness. They seem to forget that even if they believe they get to win in heaven, there is still a game that we all must play in our heart-thumping, blood-pumping years. They seem blind to the fact that their side never wins these rounds.
But lose they do. And long after they lose in court, after people stop hashtagging them, after Hannity bookers quit calling them, and after whatever cash streams they found in the exciting world of selling martyrdom on the conservative plain eventually dry up, the rule of law will remain the rule of law. It is bigger than them. It will weather whatever limited storms their bad facts and faith-driven truculence spiral-clouded its way. Even if some of these more high-profile cases become a record for historical study, they will not be the basis for anything that can continue to hurt LGBT people.
Kim Davis: The almost too perfect coda to the marriage discrimination fight
She is portraying herself as a victim even though she is the one denying equal treatment, basic fairness, and dignity to a minority population.
She is arrogant, thumbing her nose at court orders that go all the way up to SCOTUS.
She is almost unbelievably hypocritical, having herself enjoyed four—count 'em—marriages herself.
She is relying fully on her personal faith with complete disregard for church/state separation
She is aligning herself with activist groups that put their agendas far above the facts and their fundraising far above their ability to serve her needs.
She is fighting a fight that everyone knows she will ultimately lose.
Kim Davis is the perfect story for these waning days of the marriage fight. This sideshow of a news item, playing out through an almost too good to be true subject, is like a mutant melding of all that the anti-equality movement has done wrong over the years. She, like discrimination itself, is quite hard for any logical person to defend. She, like the anti-gay movement itself has long done, is unwittingly helping America see just how nasty inequality looks when it plays out in the real world.
In the documentary, Kim Davis is the angry protester yelling at the stoic citizens who are just trying to move on with life. She is the antagonist who is unnecessarily hassling those who are ready to comply with fairly contested and enacted laws. She is the soldier who doesn't realize that she's already lost the fight. And she is perfectly cast. If she didn't step up on her own misguided accord, Hollywood would've wanted to invent her.
Anti-gay clerks are going to have to do their jobs. Because of course they are.
Declaring that she has "little or no likelihood" to win on appeal, a Sixth Circuit panel has denied a now infamously anti-equality clerk's attempts to sidestep her job whenever a qualified same-sex couple requests she fulfill her paid duties:
A panel of federal appeals judges refused to overrule a judge's injunction against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who continues to refuse marriage licenses for same-sex couples more than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court found a constitutional right to marry.
Three judges with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Davis' request for a stay on Wednesday, writing that her official duties include issuing the forms and that the Supreme Court has already said states cannot bar same-sex couples from marriage.
KEEP READING: Rowan gay marriage licenses upheld on appeal [Courier-Journal]
Shocked. Shocked, I tell you.
No word on how the anti-LGBT movement (or what's left of it) will next lie to Ms. Davis (and to the bakers and the photographers and the florists and...) in order to dupe them into believing they get to win these fights simply because they want to. Though I do hear the plan will have something to do with a lamp and a genie.
Jeb really wants to remind voters of his anti-'same status' plan for gay couples
When a candidate releases a book in the middle of a primary, every chapter, word, and comma is carefully orchestrated. So you can be sure that Jeb Bush included this in his new ebook, Reply All, because he thinks it's a virtue worth touting:
Mr. Cortada, an artist, was alarmed that Mr. Bush’s brother, President George W. Bush, was proposing to amend the Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage – and was unsettled that the governor backed the idea.
“When one of us is denied equality, then all of us are denied liberty,” Mr. Cortada wrote to Mr. Bush. “Today, I am feeling particularly denied and particularly unequal.”
“I don’t believe that your relationship should be afforded the same status in the law as a man and a woman agreeing to marriage,” he wrote.
FULL: Jeb Bush’s Emails as Governor Show His Feelings on Same-Sex Marriage [NYT]
Out of all the email terminology available, it's fitting he called the book "Reply All." "Forward" would have been a big lie.
Maine: NOM finally forced to hand over its tiny, out-of-state, incestuous donor roll
The list itself holds few surprises, showing the same names we've long known (Templeton, Fieler, Caster, Knights of Columbus) having financed NOM's operations in Maine. But having covered this saga for all the years that NOM tried to obstruct justice, I do feel compelled to post this final chapter:
The whole thing is already starting to feel nostalgic.
This delusional primary: Huckabee claims 'same-sex marriage is not the law of the land'
The US Supreme Court did not "write a law," obviously. Instead, the majority found that same-sex couples have the right, under our constitution, to enter into civil marriages. In fact, the laws that were passed to try to muddy and ultimately stop that right (both federally, with DOMA, and with all the state marriage bans) are what court after court found unconstitutional; SCOTUS agreed.
But now listen to Mike Huckabee, a presidential candidate who wants nothing more than to entwine church and state into a covenant marriage, throw some red meat at Iowans in hopes that they will support his pipe dreams:
MIKE HUCKABEE: Well, let me correct you. Same-sex marriage is not the law of the land. And let me tell you why. Because the Supreme Court cannot make law. And so I know we say it is, but — let’s be very clear. Let’s go back to the fundamentals of the Constitution. Three branches of government equal to each other. Each has checks and balances with each other. No one branch can just do something and say, to heck with the other two branches. It doesn’t work like that.
FULL TRANSCRIPT: Mike Huckabee: “Same-Sex Marriage Is Not the Law of the Land” [The Pulse (an anti-gay conservative site)]
And of course Huckabee throws in Dred Scott since that's become the gross, cynical, and divisive talking point social conservatives love to toss out there in order to make our love seem like one of history's ugliest chapters. Huck says:
HUCKABEE: I don’t mean to overwhelm this, but here’s what I think we’ve got to understand. In history, there have been times — Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, all ignored Supreme Court decisions that they clearly knew were unlawful. The most notorious was the Dred Scott decision in 1857 which said black people weren’t fully human. Let me just ask, does anybody here agree that that decision was the right decision? I mean, it was the Supreme Court’s decision. So if the Supreme Court decides something and it’s now the law of the land, shouldn’t we now be disrespecting black people? Why do we not? Well, because one, Abraham Lincoln refused to accept it. He refused to abide by it. And he instead signed the Emancipation Proclamation and later we passed the Fourteenth Amendment, which codified into law what Lincoln said was the obvious law.
FULL TRANSCRIPT: Mike Huckabee: “Same-Sex Marriage Is Not the Law of the Land” [The Pulse (an anti-gay conservative site)]
But even in his disgusting attempts to play a "slavery" card, he trips up in his own rhetoric. Yes, he's right that Lincoln reacted in outrage to the heinous ruling. But until new laws were passed, Dred Scott was legally binding, something Lincoln himself acknowledged in his first inaugural address. The president and allies had to engage in political efforts to ultimately overturn the ruling and damage done.
And yes, a theoretical President Huckabee (shudder) could use the same political will, moving to pass new laws and even shooting for a far-fetched constitutional amendment. But that never-going-to-happen, only-in-Huck-and-Santorum's-dreams scenario still wouldn't change the fact that same-sex marriage, circa the summer of 2015, is the law of the land in all of these United States. This idea that it is not is simply Huckabee's delusion and nothing more. It is not a serious idea for a serious electorate.
The 'Yeah. Duh. Of course' phase of this fight
A U.S. District judge ruled today that Kim Davis, the clerk from Rowan County, Kentucky, who went viral when she was filmed denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples, must issue such licenses or ultimately face some pretty steep consequences:
Judge Orders Kentucky Clerk to Issue Gay Marriage Licenses [AP via ABC News]
Davis' lawyers vow to appeal. Because of course they are. It's likely a fruitless exercise based on the lower court's findings.
At one time this would have been the kind of story that make me raise a hearty, "hell yeah." But now? Now it's something different. Now I can't muster much more than a "Yeah. Duh. Of course."
In another story in the cycle today, whipsmart legal eagle and DOMA hero Roberta Kaplan and her team are vowing to bring down Mississippi's heinous ban on adoption by same-sex couples:
This is the only ban on its kind remaining, and even the former governor who signed it says he regrets doing so. Most anyone who knows anything about gays and the law and the trajectory of such things believes that the ban is as good as gone.
And again, at one time I would have been like, "in your face, opposition!" But now? Now, when considering the prospect of this, the last of these bans to fall, I'm more like, "Yup. Duh. Of course; crossing another off the list."
It's not that I don't care anymore. Indeed, I care about all of these injustices and their righting. I always will. It's just that I, like everyone else paying attention, know that all such injustices are on the way to correction, and soon. And when it comes to something like a clerk issuing licenses, those of us who have already won this fight have little to gain from the sustained wins. I mean, don't get me wrong—it's fun and right and worthy of note. But it's also now the norm. An unchangeable norm here in the U.S.
Once again, I must give the caveat that there are some fights remaining, some fights to come, and perhaps even some small pieces of ground that we will lose. I also must note that the international stage is still a hefty slog. I should proceed to say that anti-LGBT mindsets and biases, as systemic and ingrained as they are, will likely linger in real, hurtful, and even damaging ways for years and years to come. This is all true. Vigilance is pertinent.
Even so, the ground has shifted too much and too fundamentally for the major injustices to linger in law or within our politics. Protections will only increase. The last vestiges of discriminatory laws will fall away. Defiant types with the anti-equality movement will eventually realize that their movement has sold them a bill of goods. At this point, all of our victories are now more like overdue compliance with the notion that we are equal citizens whose rights and protections and benefits don't come with special exceptions, asterisks, or carve outs. There are few chances for those who just now getting with the program to write their own profiles in courage or tout their laudable changes of heart. At this point, you support basic fairness because "Yeah. Duh. Of course."