By definition, you need a strong stomach to watch any moments from the Values Voter Summit. But even by that gathering’s low standards, what happened last night is downright nauseating. The Family Research Council, which sponsors the yearly gathering of Christian activists and elected officials, presented its “Cost Of Discipleship Award” to Kim Davis for her refusal to issue marriage licenses in protest of the Supreme Court ruling making marriage equality the law of the land.
The beleaguered county clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky had supposedly been a Democrat. However, hours before taking the stage at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, she announced that she would become a Republican. She told Reuters that she and her husband, Joe, had concluded that
“the Democratic Party had left us a long time ago, so why are we hanging on?”
From where I’m sitting, Davis was never really a Democrat in spirit. No real Democrat–whether a progressive, a New Democrat, or a Blue Dog–would willfully use the power of government to put innocent people in harm’s way. And yet, that’s exactly what Davis did when she refused to issue any marriage licenses at all for two months to anyone, gay or straight.
While simply turning away LGBT couples would have been outrageous enough, Davis hasn’t proffered any defensible reason for turning away straight couples as well. If there’s any difference between this mentality and the same mentality that led Bridget Kelly, David Wildstein, Bill Baroni and David Samson to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge, I don’t see it.
And yet, the FRC somehow thought this mentality was deserving of an award. FRC president Tony Perkins announced earlier this month that Davis would receive his organization’s second Cost of Discipleship Award for her refusal to “let religious liberty be trampled by legal tyranny.” He added that Davis had “shown more courage than 99 percent of the elected officials in Kentucky.”
According to a press release announcing the award, it was first given last year to Mariam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman who refused to renounce her Christian faith and convert to Islam even when threatened with execution. She spent several months in a Sudanese prison under appalling conditions, and was denied medical treatment even though she was eight months pregnant. Ibrahim was eventually granted asylum in the United States. So a woman who actively persecuted others for two months is put on the same pedestal as a woman who was actually the victim of persecution?
People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch got a clip of the ceremony.
In a similar vein, Perkins called for Christians “in positions of public trust” to oppose “unelected and unaccountable rulers” who make decisions that “conflict with the truth of God.” Davis, he said, “should not be an outlier.” He believed there ought to be more elected officials like her “who say no to judges who redefine the revealed truth of God.” He also likened her to Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. Hmmm–from where I’m sitting, she’s more like George Wallace and Bull Connor.
Davis then took the stage to a standing ovation. Overcome by emotion, she thanked God for being with her through the last few months. All that’s kept her going, she said, is knowing that “Jesus will show up at the right time.” She closed her remarks by shouting,
“I am only one, but we are many!”
It was nauseating enough that, with this award, the FRC is effectively saying that it is perfectly acceptable to use the power of government to willfully put innocent people in harm’s way. But to even suggest that Davis is in any way deserving of the same distinction as a pregnant woman who was threatened with being put to death if she didn’t convert to Islam? That’s so damn obscene that for once, I’m at a loss for words.