Monday, September 14, 2015

Kentucky clerk allowing marriage licenses without her name; she's still on the wrong side of history, if right with her personal conscience

The latest news reports have Kim Davis not interfering Monday as clerk assistants reporting to her issue marriage licenses (apparently gay and straight) with wording concerning federal court orders  (link) but without her signature.  She claims that the licenses might prove to be invalid under state law.  That’s a bit up in the air, until the legislature convenes.  Right now, the governor doesn’t want to call a special session.

Jeffrey Toobin, CNN legal commentator, has an op-ed  Monday, expressing that Kim Davis is simply on the wrong side of history.  Whether she can remain in office and object to her name being used this way is a good question (and I faced a question a bit like this in the 90s in a private matter), but Toobin points out that few clerks around the country are trying to stop same-sex marriage licenses.

The remaining objection to same-sex marriage  seems to reflect the older cultural objections to accepting (or sometimes even tolerating) homosexuality, especially among men, in the increasingly distant past.  A lot of the objection had to do with family solidarity.  The “self-discipline” that it took for a man to restrict sexuality to the confines of traditional marriage (with openness to the responsibilities and risks of procreation) was a proxy for belonging to a community at all, to backing others up, for providing resilience.  In the past, this used to have a lot to do with gender (“free the men to fight”).  The idea still has more traction today in poor countries, theocratic (often Muslim) states, and authoritarian countries in general (Russia). 


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