Debate Forum 09/15

“Repent, sodomites!” says Kentucky clerk

By Tim Walker


Kim Davis, 49, is currently the Clerk for Rowan County, a small county tucked into the foothills of the Daniel Boone National Forest in eastern Kentucky. A Democrat, she was elected to that position in 2014 and assumed office on Jan. 5 of this year. In 2011, while working as a deputy clerk at the same office, Davis had what she describes as “a religious awakening” and joined the congregation of Solid Rock Apostolic Church in Morehead, the county seat. When Kim Davis ran for office and was elected, there were no questions regarding the rights for same-sex couples to marry in the state of Kentucky—gay marriage was, at the time, illegal. In July 1998, the state had enacted statutes to define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, prohibiting same-sex marriages, declaring them “contrary to public policy” and denying recognition of same-sex marriages from all other jurisdictions. Then in November, 2004 Kentucky voters went one step further when 75 percent of them approved an amendment to the state’s constitution which declared, in part, “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Kentucky.”

Then the Supreme Court got involved, and messed everything up. On June 26 of this year, amid much hue and cry, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its controversial decision in the Obergefell v. Hodges case, striking down constitutional and statutory bans on same-sex marriages in this country and making same-sex marriage legal in every state.

Which left County Clerk Kim Davis in a quandary. Her personal belief system, along with the teachings of her church, forbids her from performing an act that is suddenly central to her position—namely, issuing licenses to same-sex couples in Rowan County who wish to be married. So Mrs. Davis, a duly elected official, chose to stop performing one of the duties of her job; she refused to issue marriage licenses to ANYONE in Rowan County, regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation.

She was not alone. At this writing, several states still have pockets of resistance to the Supreme Court’s ruling. In Kentucky alone, the clerk of Casey County has refused to issue marriage licenses to all couples (like Kim Davis, in order to avoid the implied endorsement of same-sex unions), while the clerk of Whitley County is steadfastly refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples only. Knott County, also in Kentucky, refuses to say whether they’ll issue same-sex licenses or not, as no such couples have applied there.

Kim Davis, after refusing a judge’s order to issue licenses for same-sex couples to marry, spent five days in jail for contempt of court. Upon her release, she was feted by Republican presidential hopefuls, and her image and her stance have been embraced by religious groups and conservatives nationwide.

While some clerks are appointed, the Rowan County Clerk position is won by popular vote, and the position’s salary is paid with taxpayer dollars. After being elected, Kim Davis was quoted in the local media as saying that she, “…will be a good steward of their tax dollars and follow the statutes of this office to the letter.” But that was before the United States Supreme Court changed the rules of the game, forcing a question upon Ms. Davis.

Is she justified in following her conscience and denying marriage licenses to couples she is convinced have no legal right to marry? Is she simply following the path of a Rosa Parks, a Mahatma Ghandi, or the conscientious objector by staying true to her beliefs? Does any judge, in fact, have the right to force us to act in ways that run counter to our ideas of what is right and what is wrong?

Tim Walker is 50 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their 2 children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz and black t-shirts. Reach him


Religious heroin

By Ben Tomkins


When asked by a reporter under whose authority Kim Davis was acting when she was defying the Supreme Court order to begin issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples, she replied “God’s authority.”

Now we must ask, what is harm? Harm, in societal terms, is one group actively harming another group’s persons or rights.

Now this is different than speech and ideas. An idea cannot cause harm or be harmed in-and-of-itself. It is intangible, and by definition you cannot cause harm to an intangible. You may only challenge it, and this distinction is the foundation of freedom of speech.

A heroic person is someone who places themselves between those two peoples to prevent the act of harming. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. comes immediately to mind. Kim Davis, however would have you believe the same of her because she claims to be preventing homosexuals from causing harm to God, and this reasoning is flawed in two ways: first, if God is a transcendent being, he would be both beyond harm and not a “person” against whom an action could be taken. Second, she is suggesting that it is God’s laws—read, his ideas—that homosexuals and the United States government are harming. I believe it’s self-evident that this is absurd.

You could make the case if you grant the wholly ridiculous premise that Jesus was God in human form, but my impression from Christians seems to be that what the Romans did to him was ultimately a very, very good thing. I, however, view it rather differently.

Of course, if homosexuals were forcing other gay people to marry them, or indeed, anyone was forcing someone to perform an explicitly voluntary act, Kim Davis’ actions could very well be considered a heroic thing. One can get married to someone unjustly—a shotgun wedding perhaps. However, you cannot get married “at” other people. A marriage will only offend the ideas of a third party. Because it isn’t a tangible harm (like, say, beating up a man and absconding with his 14-year-old daughter), the best they can do in free society is exercise their freedom of speech.

This is why Kim Davis is deranged, and those like her are dangerous. They are tangibly harming gay people by denying them a Supreme Court-mandated right, but the person who is analogous to MLK is the person who stands between someone like her and the harm she is causing: to homosexuals. Gay people are not an idea that is beyond affront; they are—and I know this has historically been a matter of contention—very actual people, and I don’t know of anyone besides Kim Il Sung who is trying to stake that claim there is a God who currently meets that criterion.

In a way, I’m glad a Kim Davis has surfaced, because she is a microcosm of every argument for the redress of theistic offense that has ever been made. Why did a group of militant Muslims shoot a Danish filmmaker? Because his speech—read, an idea—harmed their intangible: God. The same can be said of all theocratic encroachment on free society, and it will go on unless more and more of us place ourselves in between.

But the Kim Davis example is even worse than it appears. She’s also refusing to grant licenses to straight people, of whose marriages she approves, and blaming their inability to get married on the people she’s harming. In other words, she’s harming homosexuals, and then suggesting that the harm she’s doing to straight people is in fact being caused by the very people she aggrieves.

I absolutely will not make a comparison of result, but it is exactly this kind of insidious thought process that, if left unchecked in the hands of powerful people, results in horrible human tragedy.

The Armenian genocide was justified and carried out in the following way: the rulers of the Ottoman Turks objected to ethnic Armenians forming political parties whose goal was to improve Armenian Christians’ standing in the Caliphate. The Turks then began exterminating them, and incited the Turkish populace by forcibly conscripting the Armenian men into the army and telling the Muslim population they were now armed rebels. This resulted in the Turks gleefully exterminating between 800,000 and 1.5 million Armenians, a crime they refuse to acknowledge and will kick ambassadors out of their country for implying.

My point is this: this election season, when you hear Mike Huckabee saying “I thank God for Kim Davis, and I hope more Americans will stand with her,” realize what he is suggesting about how her ideas are a just cause for harm. When Ted Cruz implies that it is in fact gay people who are harming her by saying “sadly, we’ve seen a war on faith break out across our nation, and we must be vigilant to protect the free exercise of religion,” that believing in God is just cause to harm those who are not harming you.

This is not a polemic. This is extremely serious. When faith is being treated as a sufficient cause for harming other people, this must be stamped out before a conflagration, and I would suggest that those who lack the courage to stand between Kim Davis and the rights of a legitimate and valuable minority in our country are awaiting the day when the crosshairs are on their back.

Ben Tomkins is a violinist, teacher, journalist and critically acclaimed composer currently living in Denver, Colorado. He hates stupidity and generally believes that the volume of one’s voice is inversely proportional to one’s knowledge of an issue. Reach Ben Tomkins at


A case of civil disobedience

By Dave Westbrock


Martin Luther King Jr., Mohandas Gandhi, Kim Davis—what do these three people have in common? Each was jailed for disobeying what they regarded as unjust behavior by civil authorities, a term we now refer to respectfully as “civil disobedience.” Reverend King was imprisoned for violating a court order that prohibited even peaceful demonstration on behalf of equal justice for blacks in Birmingham, Alabama. In a letter to the local newspaper he wrote, “I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’” His campaign resulted in the greatest strides for civil rights for minorities since the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution in the later 19th century. For his own part and on behalf of the people of India, Gandhi was charged with sedition for practicing nonviolent protests against the colonial government, eventually leading to Indian independence. He is widely considered the father of modern India. That nonviolent protest is unusual is to ignore the very founding acts of our republic. The Boston Tea party, resistance to the Stamp Act, the Quartering Act, the Currency and Sugar Act all were nonviolent protests that destabilized British rule long before Lexington. Likewise a clerk in a small Kentucky town asserted her rights as an American citizen by refusing to issue marriage licenses for same sex couples. She was asserting her religious freedom rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. She submitted herself to prison rather than performing and acting in a way she felt in violation of God’s law. As a civil official was she compelled to act in disagreement with her duty as clerk? Does that mean anyone who is submissive to law or diktat from a federal official is bound by that diktat? Did she give up her right to religious conviction when she was elected to public office? To the left and the fawning media, civil disobedience only exists for leftist causes and is permissive to outrageous statements by groups such as Black Lives Matter in regard to killing safety officials.

Such a “law” dictated by one member of the Supreme Court now becomes the law of the land, a principle nowhere outlined in either the Federalist papers or explicitly in the Constitution, but later deigned by John Marshall in Marbury v. Madison. Consider that one man acting on his conviction based on current thought should overturn a cultural and legal policy that has existed for millennia. Truly, is it compatible with our system that nine unelected judges should decide policy for our republic in perpetuity, a principle that has not legitimately percolated through American society? The president himself stated he believed that marriage was between a man and a woman before he was elected—until he got elected—and less than a decade later we have a total disruption of the fabric of society, the American family.

Furthermore, this violation of civil “law” is not the only violation now widespread across the country. Consider the violation of federal law in the shielding of violent criminals in sanctuary cities. Why are these city officials in San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Tucson, and Columbus, as well as 200 other cities and counties, not arrested or violating Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regulations? And what about sending classified government documents through a private server not resulting in a federal warrant and arrest of the former Secretary of State, or the president himself who violated federal law by illegally admitting illegal aliens to enter the U.S. in contradiction to federal law? Where does equal protection under the law extend to Kim Davis? Clearly the law is only for the peons, those of us who are either not in high places as are government elites, or it is just not part of pop culture to prosecute those on the left of the political divide or those who are non-religious?

It just isn’t cool in modern society.

Justice Kennedy has unleashed a lion, a movement that will destroy a far left trend that has held sway for so many years in our national life. The silent American will no longer stay silent. Our existence as an America depends on it. Make no mistake, the long lasting effects of this court decision will not just live in infamy, but this one clerk’s stand is just the beginning of many more brave individuals of all stripes that believe that God and country are not separable—endowed by our Creator.

Dr. Westbrock has been in private medical practice for 35 years. He was the Republican candidate for the U.S House of Representatives in 1994 and 1996. He has written and lectured extensively on the subject of healthcare reform and healthcare policy. He can be reached at

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Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at

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