Kim Davis, the defiant county clerk, is currently sitting in isolation in a jail cell after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Rowan County, Kentucky, even after she was ordered by a judge to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage or be held in contempt of court.
Everywhere I turn on both social media or in person people are talking about Ms. Davis, her actions, personal history and for some weird reason her hair and looks. I’m all for individuals taking a virulent stand against an individual who chooses to not uphold the law of the land as well as continually acting in an unjust discriminatory way but bringing her looks or anything else about her physical appearance into the narrative is not only just plain wrong it is sexism in its worst form.
The old saying goes: “two wrongs don’t make a right.” As a community, we must come together now more than ever to correct the wrongs we see occurring in the world disguised as religious freedom and make sure that we are both holding to the strictest of standards and the morality that many in the religious right claim we lack.
Although conservative religious individuals and political pundits are claiming the current American zeitgeist is being monopolized by liberal, left-wing policies that demoralize and destroy the current state of American society, it is in the narrative of sexism and body shaming where the lines of who is standing on the right and wrong sides of history gets blurred.
Since Davis is arguing her case on moral grounds it is completely valid to bring in her past personal indiscretions into account. Her lack of respect or follow through for what she believes to be the holy and sanctimonious institutions exemplifies the hypocrisy of the religious right and those now claiming that they have the right to refuse service or other rights to LGBT individuals.
What is wrong is the way in which we as a community, (although completely just and right about this case), haven’t learned that the same hateful and poisonous language so often thrown our way by individuals, groups, and now Presidential hopefuls, only keeps us on their same bigoted and ignorant levels. No one is telling Kim Davis that she cannot have her religious beliefs but what she is being told is that she cannot hold an office where she takes an oath to uphold the law only to pick and choose what laws she wishes to uphold. Kim Davis is a bigot but she still deserves the same right to believe whatever she wants to believe, no matter how wrong it may seem, just as much as we are now, finally, after such a long, arduous fight, have the right to marry.
I always wondered why my favorite U.S. Supreme Court decision was Reynolds v. United States. Looking back upon it, I see how it applies to so many decisions that have both adversely and advantageously effected the struggles both the LGBT and feminist communities experienced when trying to achieve full equality under the law. An individual can believe whatever they want to believe but when those actions inflict undue harm onto others, they are breaking the law, taking away another person’s rights and creating a world where government exists in name only and where people can pick and choose which laws to follow or not.
Kim Davis does need a lot of things but saying or suggesting that she needs a haircut, a makeover, or even to lose weight, makes those that continue to repeat it no better than she is; to state such statements doesn’t purport the ideal that #LoveWins, which took over social media just mere months ago, but changes the whole narrative to symbolize that sexism and hate are more important than love and equality.
John Erickson is a Ph.D. Candidate in American Religious History at Claremont Graduate University. He holds a MA in Women’s Studies in Religion; an MA in Applied Women’s Studies; and a BA in Women’s Literature and Women’s Studies. He is a Permanent Contributor to the blog Feminism and Religion, a Non-Fiction Reviewer for Lambda Literary, the leader in LGBT reviews, author interviews, opinions and news since 1989 and the Co-Chair of the Queer Studies in Religion section of the American Academy of Religion’s Western Region, the only regional section of the American Academy of Religion that is dedicated to the exploration of queer studies in religion and other relevant fields in the nation and the President of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s LGBTQA+ Alumni Association. When he is not working on his dissertation, he can be found at West Hollywood City Hall where he is the Community Events Technician and works on policies and special events relating to women, gender, sexuality, and human rights issues that are sponsored or co-sponsored by the City of West Hollywood. He is the author of the blog From Wisconsin, with Love and can be followed on Twitter @JErickson85
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