California Test of 2008
Turn back the clock…..to June 16, 2008 when in California, gay marriage was made legal. The law was passed by the Supreme Court of California that disallowing same-sex couples from marriage was a direct violation of civil rights based on the California State Constitution. On June 17th, my wife and I were married, but it was no easy feat. While the world thinks California is a liberal state full of happy queers and Dykes on Bikes, the rest of the state is quite conservative, as was the Kern County Clerk in Bakersfield, California. This woman, Ann Barnett, refused to perform civil unions for gay couples, and hence closed her office to all unions. A few days later, the Board of Supervisors backed her decision to refrain from providing these services.
Feeling shut down and excommunicated, with family in town for our union, on June 17, also my birthday, we headed over to City Hall. The Clerk’s doors were closed. But there, as an answer to a prayer, were at least 50 people of the cloth, of all denominations and from all states, meandering through the courtyard asking “Do you have someone to marry you?” It was emotional, inspiring, and validating. We, and hundreds of others were married that day in a statement of unity and civil rights. Overjoyed, proud, and feeling we had won our war, it turned out to be only a battle. Proposition 8 was then put on ballot for the November vote, defining marriage as only between one man and one woman. The November election made gay marriage illegal in California again. Then came the decision that those already married legally would “grandfather in.” We remained married and thrilled, but bittersweet thinking of those who couldn’t join us. So the war went on, and we fought for them every step of the way.
This County Clerk Then fast forward to June 26, 2015. The Federal Supreme Court finds for the legalization of same sex marriage in all 50 states. The right reaches all people in America. Prop 8 is now illegitimate by a higher court. County Clerks everywhere have to marry all if so requested. Enter one Kim Davis, County Clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky. She recently refused to perform these unions, stating it was under “God’s authority.” Her appeal was declined, she continued her shunning of same sex couples, and on September 3, 2015, she was put in jail for contempt of court, not to be released until she agrees to perform same sex unions.
Davis’ attorney, Mathew Staver compared her experience to that of Jews in Nazi Germany. They were removed from their public employment, their businesses lost patrons, and they then were targets. Does this apply to Kim Davis? I think the comparison is heinous. What she didn’t learn from Ann Barnett in 2008, she was condemned to repeat, with jail time.