Questioning authority

The curious case of Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk of courts who has defied the Supreme Court in the name of her religious beliefs, has sparked a lot of argument on both sides.

On the one hand, you have the people who claim the SCOTUS decision is the law of the land and Davis is not doing the job she took an oath to do as an elected official. (The interesting sidebar to me is that she’s an elected Democrat, but suddenly that’s not important. I could imagine what it would be like if she were elected as a Republican, but I digress.) If she doesn’t want to do her job – and issuing marriage licenses is part of the job – she should resign, they say.

But then you have the Davis supporters who are applauding her determination in the face of being jailed for contempt of court. (Then again, she’s an elected official so she has a job waiting for her. I’m not so sure those under her who are reluctantly doing these marriage licenses have that option, which is why they are complying.) These supporters also believe that SCOTUS is making law instead of interpreting it as they are supposed to, particularly since the Commonwealth of Kentucky defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. As has often been the case, they continue, it’s five unelected judges overturning the will of the people.

Yet I find it interesting that Rowan County is suddenly a gay marriage hotbed. Admittedly, I have very limited experience with the state except for traveling through it en route to another destination as both a kid going to and from Florida to see my grandparents and as an adult returning from Missouri to visit relatives. If I have spent 24 hours in the state in my life I would be surprised, despite the fact I stayed overnight in the Cincinnati area one time. So I assumed Rowan County was home to Lexington or Louisville; instead it is a rural county in the eastern part of the state, bisected by I-64 and home to Morehead State University. Maybe it’s scenic – I really don’t have any lasting memory of driving through there, although I have – but I can’t see why someone would come from another place to get married there.

I also marvel at those who believe the five Supremes who made up the Obergefell majority got it right. If so, I guess they are fine with “separate but equal” and blacks not being citizens. Those were Supreme Court edicts as well.

Personally, I think it’s just like the cases of the florist, cake creator, and others who cited their religious beliefs against same-sex marriage in refusing service. Somehow that small group of activists caught word that Davis was not playing along with their desire to normalize same-sex marriage so it was decided to make an example of her.

Further, I think it’s the first step of a battle that’s going to move from individuals to institutions. What if the same-sex couple who just got their marriage license wants to get married in a particular church, one which believes that marriage is strictly between a man and a woman? Would the Supreme Court step in there?

The end game that is in play is twofold: one part is to eliminate the tax-exempt status churches enjoy, which would create great financial harm to many smaller congregations, while the other is to further eliminate the influence religion has by conditioning the God-fearing to suffer under the perception of being considered a bigot, making them afraid to speak out. At the exit of our church there’s a sign about entering the mission field, so the job of the radical gay lobby seems to be that of pushing the seed to stony places and thorns.

At best, gay marriage should be a state issue. We in Maryland voted – unwisely, in my opinion, but the narrow majority ruled – to make it the law of the state. Other states may not want it, but the hammer of the SCOTUS came down and said they had to, ignoring the Tenth Amendment because I don’t see anything in my copy of the Constitution that gives the federal government the right to determine who can or can’t be married. Yet we have adopted this religious construct as a legal term, one which confers certain rights. (And that’s why I had no real issue with civil unions.)

Proponents of gay marriage often tell those of us on the “one man, one woman” side that if you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get one. They snivelingly ask, “how is a gay couple getting married hurting you?” and tell us that marriage between opposite-sex couples isn’t doing all that well considering the divorce rate.

Yet I have to ask back: what benefits are we getting from gay marriage? They cannot naturally have children, which will cause further splintering of the already-tattered family unit because now a third person will be involved as a surrogate mother or sperm donor.

But to me that is small potatoes compared to the Pandora’s box we are opening. If you are a man who can marry another man, why can’t you marry a child, even a child of yours?  Or why not two so you can have one of each gender? When it’s all about #lovewins, thoughts of the legacy we leave behind are out of sight and out of mind.

Based on choices we make and sometimes cruel twists of fate, in life we cannot always get what we want. Regardless of how much I dreamed about it or how many hours I spent playing in the park and the backyard, I’m not looking back on a Hall of Fame baseball career because I didn’t have the skills to be anymore than a benchwarmer in JV baseball. Similarly, the young man in Missouri who considers himself a girl is still a guy even though he wears women’s clothes – no matter how much he may wish it so, he can’t change biology regardless of how many hormones and medical procedures he may endure.

Perhaps one is born gay, which to me as it relates to marriage falls under cruel twist of fate. There’s nothing that says they can’t have meaningful relationships and share their lives together. I just don’t believe they can call themselves married because that’s reserved for the union of one man and one woman.

Since the Supreme Court is always right, why not go “separate but equal” – marriage licenses for opposite-sex and civil union licenses for same-sex. Everyone’s happy and maybe Kim Davis can get out of jail.

Looking for a wedge

While the title might lead one to conclude this will be a critique of President Obama’s frequent golf outings, it is more apt to describe the state of the Democratic Party as they look at November’s midterm elections. With Republicans energized by opposition to Barack Obama’s agenda and buoyed by millions of activists gathered under the auspices of the Tea Party banner, desperate Democrats may be tempted to try anything within their power to maintain their grip on control in Washington, D.C. and state capitals.

One such example comes from Michigan, a state which went overwhelmingly for Barack Obama while suffering from the hamhanded policies of outgoing Gov. Jennifer Granholm to a point where the state is charitably described as an “economic basket case” and continues to lead the other 49 states in the dubious category of highest unemployment rate.

There paid petition circulators are combing the state to gather signatures to put the “Tea Party” on the ballot. While this may sound legitimate, the allegation of ties to the state Democratic Party and lack of knowledge about the drive from state Tea Party organizers make the petition drive sound like a dirty trick to split off a percentage of the conservative vote and preserve the status quo for another term. A similar effort in Nevada put an ersatz candidate on the November ballot to oppose embattled Sen. Harry Reid and GOP primary victor Sharron Angle, again without the backing of actual Tea Party organizers.

But that tactic can only work in certain states where ballot access is relatively easy. In other states Democrats have to use different methods to dilute the strength of newly-engaged citizen activists.

In Kentucky, the Senate race between Rand Paul and Democrat Jack Conway received national attention thanks to Paul’s broadcast remarks about decades-old civil rights legislation. While there’s little chance any such legislation will be revisited soon and more important issues are on the table in the Senate battle, the digression provided a chance for Kentucky (and national) Democrats to put Paul and the Republicans on the defensive, blunting the momentum of a successful campaign.

Meanwhile, Democrats received a boost from Mark Critz winning a special election in Pennsylvania’s 12th District to replace the late Rep. John Murtha. What escaped the media spin on Critz’s win was his platform – the Democrat claimed to be, “Pro Life, a supporter of our 2nd Amendment rights, a fervent believer in a strong national defense and a supporter of creating an atmosphere in which small business can flourish.” Those stances would hardly qualify him to be a favorite among the Beltway cocktail party crowd, but what matters will be how he actually votes on upcoming legislation. Critz repeated a tactic used by Democrats in conservative-leaning districts to win Congressional seats in 2006 and 2008 by running right-of-center on certain issues.

Perhaps the largest schism among Tea Party activists is one Democrats could exploit by bringing up social issues. While libertarians and conservatives typically agree on the fiscal side of the government equation, they often differ on social issues – for example, a social conservative who favors a Constitutional ban on abortion would be accused of legislating morality by a libertarian. By making social issues a part of the equation, cagey Democrats could discourage turnout and soften support from the Tea Party base.

Democrats seeking to blunt the momentum of conservatives coming into November’s election are going to need every tactic to succeed. It’s the job of the discerning voter to separate the hype Democrats offer from the record they represent.

Michael Swartz used to practice architecture but now is a Maryland-based freelance writer and blogger whose work can be found in a number of outlets, including Liberty Features Syndicate. This piece cleared LFS back on June 3rd and I updated it to reflect the Nevada primary result for publication here.

Friday night videos – episode 33

Since I didn’t do this last week, I have a lot to choose from among what the internet has offered me – an abundance of stuff. Let’s begin with this one, which features the script GM should’ve really followed in its recent commercial.

Now this is a real commercial. If Maryland elected a Secretary of Agriculture I would hope he’d do a commercial half as good.

Speaking of Maryland, Montgomery County guaranteed itself more hard times by enacting a carbon tax. Watch this county councilman call the opponents ‘astroturf.’ But wouldn’t astroturf then be taxed because of its carbon footprint? Doesn’t matter, we’re all going to get it.

Perhaps the next scenario will soon occur in Montgomery County (and probably serve them right.) In the meantime, it’s yet another witty campaign spot from Vermont.

After last Tuesday’s big Kentucky win, Rand Paul was feeling pretty good about himself. Check out this call out.

I’ll say the same thing about Frank Kratovil – please, please, President Obama, come down here to the Lower Shore and campaign for flip-flop Frank. That oughta be a good time.

On a more serious note, one Maryland businesswoman detailed her struggles for a Bob Ehrlich campaign spot.

Just let her do the talking, Bob.

Hey, do you see a pattern here? Must be an election year, huh? Here’s a guy who doesn’t have to worry about that anymore – he can live on his generous pension and endorse Democrats now. Thanks Wayne.

Okay, enough politics. I wanted to find something to crank up so this should fit the bill. 13:1 does ‘Judgement Day’ at a show in Philly.

I’ll leave you with that, see you next week.