Kim Davis, the clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, sits in a jail cell for refusing to issue same-sex "marriage" licenses.
She "broke the law," say her critics. She disobeyed "the law of the land."
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But as more than one conservative thinker has pointed out, the redefinition of marriage began 11 years ago with another famous lawbreaker.
It was in 2004 when then-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom flaunted the law of the land by ordering those very marriage licenses to be issued to same-sex couples.
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While Davis is in jail, Newsom, now serving as lieutenant governor of California, is running for governor of his state.
"It's interesting that gay activists who praised SF Mayor Gavin Newsom for illegally issuing marriage licenses now vilify Kim Davis," Tweeted author Michael Brown.
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Brown expanded on the comparison in an op-ed Friday for Charisma magazine.
"When Gavin Newsom refused to submit to the law in 2004, he was a hero," writes Brown. "When Kim Davis refuses to submit to the law, she is a bigot and a monster. (And make no mistake about it: His actions were far more flamboyant and aggressive than hers, and whereas as she is a self-professed 'very private person' who does not want the spotlight to the point of being overwhelmed and in tears because of the national attention, Newsom actively sought it out.)"
Brown also highlights the fact that Newsom, who was sworn in as mayor under national and state laws that recognized marriage as the union of one man and one woman, violated his oath of office to uphold that law. The exact opposite was true of Davis. When she was sworn in, Kentucky did not recognize same-sex "marriage."
The comparisons about lawbreaking don’t end there, says Brown, who holds a Ph.D. from New York University in Near Eastern Languages and Literature and authored several books, the latest of which takes on the gay rights movement under the title "Outlasting the Gay Revolution: 8 Principles for Long Term Cultural Change."
"Let's recall that just last year, Jack Conway, Kentucky's attorney general, refused to defend the state's ban on same-sex 'marriage,' despite his oath of office, explaining that, 'Once I reached the conclusion that the law was discriminatory, I could no longer defend it. At that point, being true to myself became more important than the political considerations.'"
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"Where was the national condemnation of Conway?" Brown asks. "And where was the national condemnation of then-Attorney General Eric Holder when he instructed attorneys general nationwide that they were not obligated to defend state laws – meaning, specifically, bans on same-sex 'marriage' – if they found them to be discriminatory?"
Attorney David French, writing in National Review, sees the comparisons and contrasts in the actions as "competing revolutionary acts."
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Schlafly weighs in on Davis controversy
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If the left is upset with Davis, she is a problem of their own making, said Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the Eagle Forum and author of "Who Killed the American Family?"
"It's shocking the way the left didn't react when Obama and his attorneys general didn't obey the law. And so when they talk about the rule of law, they're very choosy, they're very selective about which ones they're going to obey and which ones they're going to fight against," Schlafly told WND.
"They have several hundred sanctuary cities that are in open defiance of the law, and that does not seem to bother them," Schlafly added. "And in the marriage issues, some of them issued gay marriage licenses when it was clearly against the law, so the whole issue is a one-way street for the left."
So Davis isn’t the only revolutionary or "anarchist," as the left likes to call her.
"In fact, she didn’t fire the first revolutionary shot," Brown says. "That distinction belongs to a Supreme Court that concocted out of whole cloth a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, using legal 'reasoning' that reads more like a religious tract than a court opinion."
Is there a higher law?
While Conway attributed his law-breaking action to a higher sense of morality – himself – a noted conservative legal scholar says Davis also cites a higher authority, only hers is not self-invented.
Herb Titus, a longtime constitutional lawyer and former dean of the Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, said he doesn't see Davis as breaking the "law of the land."
"She's not acting lawlessly," Titus said. "And it's not just a matter of her individual Christian conscience. It has to do with her understanding of her duty as a lower civil magistrate."
Under Romans 13:4, Titus said Davis realizes that she holds her authority under God, that she's a minister of God who is held to a higher moral standard of truth and justice than whatever the current political wind dictates.
"Even though she's elected by the people, she's to serve the people under God, and that's what she's doing. It's not a personal matter, although it is quite personal," Titus told WND. "It has to do with her civil duty as an office holder.
"Now Mr. Newsom, he doesn’t hold the same view as a civil officer. He just did what he wanted to do, and he's not under any constraint other than the political. Kim Davis is under constraint to the truth under the law of God."
Titus put it this way: If a soldier in the Army is ordered to kill an innocent civilian, he can't just say, "I was doing what I was told."
Historical record bears out who man is accountable to
In fact, that was the main argument employed by the Nazi officers at Nuremburg, and it wasn't accepted by the international tribunal.
"That didn't work in Germany, nor did it work for the people who were working for Richard Nixon, so these people who criticize Kim Davis for acting lawlessly, not only are they hypocritical, they are just plain wrong," Titus said. "And just because they don’t believe there is a higher law doesn’t mean there is not one. You can't just discard God's law; it doesn’t work that way.
"That's why it is so import here to see that Kim Davis is acting lawfully to serve the public under the oath of her office, not bound by someone else's opinion just because they hold a higher office," he continued. "In fact, it's the duty of the lower magistrate to tell the holder of the higher office that they should stop violating the law. Her faith in Christ is what told her to do it."
Titus cited Roman 13:1-4, in which the Apostle Paul laid out the Judeo-Christian view on civil authority.
"These people don't have any comprehension of this because they have an entirely different worldview, an atheistic worldview that makes man the measure of all things. If you're in a position of power, you can justify anything you want; any justification is fine. But if you're in a position of weakness or less power, there would be no way you can stand against the attorney general or the judge, except that she knows her authority comes from God."
To the atheist, it's all about which human power structure is greatest, with no check on that power, Titus said.
'Not about marriage'
In the end, it's not about marriage, he said.
"Of course, they feel they're entitled to get any person they want who is a Christian in a position to give them a license. They want that person to do it. So they really are not interested in getting married. They're interested in making a political statement and exercising the new-found power they now have because the courts are backing them up," Titus said. "To them, it's a raw power play."
Joseph Backholm of the Family Policy Institute also noted the tidal wave of change in attitude that has come across those leftists who are ridiculing Davis.
"Suddenly, the progressives are organizing lectures to remind the world that our system of government is predicated on our laws being enforced equitably, regardless of the preferences of the individuals," he wrote on the FPI website. "Even Hillary Clinton got into the act this week tweeting that, 'Marriage equality is the law of the land. Officials should be held to their duty to uphold the law – end of story.'"
He listed the following historical ironies with regard to the movement toward same-sex "marriage":
- Once President Obama finished his evolution on marriage, the U.S. Department of Justice, whose job it is to defend the laws of the United States in court, refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.
- Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder then declared that state attorneys general are not required to defend constitutional amendments in their states if they believe them to be "discriminatory."
- It is the job of an attorney general to defend state laws in court. However, the attorneys general in Oregon, Nevada, California, Illinois, Virginia and Pennsylvania all refused to defend constitutional amendments in their states defining marriage as a man/woman relationship.
- In 2013, D. Bruce Haines, an official in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, started issuing same-sex "marriage" licenses when the law did not permit it.
- In 2004, Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco and Mayor John West of New Paltz, New York, both directed marriage licenses to be issued to same-sex couples long before marriage had been redefined in their states.
"Apparently the concern with strict adherence to marriage laws is a new passion of progressives," Backholm concluded.
"We've progressed," they insist. "The law has changed to be good so we care about the rule of law now."
'Don't look for evidence'
Backholm and Brown were not the only ones to notice the double standard of the left.
Sean Davis of online publication the Federalist also took note in a Sept. 3 commentary.
"Davis' arrest was met with cheers by same-sex marriage advocates who for some reason did not demand imprisonment of officials who lawlessly issued gay marriage licenses in clear contravention of state and federal laws," Davis wrote.
"If you look for evidence of gay rights advocates chastising Newsom for his blatant lawlessness, you won’t find it. Because it doesn’t exist," he continued. "You similarly won’t find any evidence of these principled law enforcement purists chastising California state officials for refusing to enforce or defend the Prop 8 ballot initiative in California, which was passed overwhelmingly by California voters.
"And don’t you dare look for evidence of high-minded progressives demanding prison sentences for the Washington, D.C., bureaucrats who openly defied federal court orders to issue concealed carry permits in the nation’s capital. Nope. Instead of enforcing the law as handed down in multiple Supreme Court cases, D.C. officials kept manufacturing new reasons to justify their refusal to comply with federal gun laws."
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