Please Stop Snarking About Kim Davis’ Four Marriages

I’ve been seeing a zillion memes like this today about Kim Davis, the Christian Kentucky Clerk who is going to jail for contempt of court, because she’s refusing to do her job and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.


1) First of all, Kim Davis only converted to Christianity four years ago. But her most recent divorce was in 2008, seven years ago. The claim that she’s being a hypocrite isn’t even true.

2) Secondly, this sort of attack is slut-shaming. And gleefully vindictive in a way that makes us look ugly. And worst of all, mean to her kids, who probably don’t want thousands of strangers posting about their birth dates, or to have that information broadcast to all their classmates.

3) It’s obvious that Kim Davis can’t win legally, and the end of the legal road here is that same-sex couples will be able to get marriage licenses everywhere in Kentucky. So nothing is accomplished by attacking Kim Davis personally, apart from making her even more of a martyr for her cause.

4) While we’re at it, if you see anyone attacking Kim Davis for her looks, please tell them to go fuck themselves.

UPDATE: Seriously, Kim Davis’ lawyer? Seriously? Lawyer representing Kim Davis compares her to a Jew under the Nazis

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20 Responses to Please Stop Snarking About Kim Davis’ Four Marriages

  1. 1
    TooManyJens says:

    I agree on all of these points. I do wonder, though, whether Kim Davis would be OK with it if a strict Catholic county clerk had refused to issue her a license for her current marriage because she’d been divorced.

  2. 2
    Falstaff says:

    I think TooManyJens makes an excellent point, really, but overall I do agree with you, Amp, on all four points. (And the codicil. Yeesh.)

  3. 3
    susan says:

    I do not think that it is snark to note that this woman (who venerates hetero marriage so much that she has tried it 4 times) is using her position to shame and humiliate others by enforcing a standard that she is proven incapable of fulfilling herself. IMO calling it “slut-shaming” is the same sort of false equivalence argument as calling her stance “religious freedom.” becoming “born again” may wash away your sins in your personal community of faith, but it does NOT rewrite history. she is a PUBLIC SERVANT, her salary is paid by TAXPAYER DOLLARS, specifically the individuals she is declining to serve. she swore an oath to this effect. let her sit in jail till she decides to resign her post or do her job.

  4. 4
    nobody.really says:

    ….using her position to shame and humiliate others….

    Factual query: Has her behavior caused anyone to feel shame and humiliation? Would it cause you to feel shame and humiliation?

    Admittedly context matters: she’s a government official in Kentucky. Yet from my remote perch, she seems so unthreatening, so desperate, and the power she wields — causing engaged couples to drive to the next county — seems so petty. She appears to be having a prolonged temper-tantrum, and a judge has now put her in a time-out.

    Given the Obergefell decision, I’d expect same-sex couples to be riding high. Within this context, does Davis really wield the power to cause people to doubt themselves?

  5. 5
    lauren says:

    I am in no way an expert, nor am i personally involved with this but –

    If you spend your life being told by all kinds of people – very possibly involving your own family – that you are wrong for loving the people you love, that you are abnormal, that certain aspects of life will be forever forbidden to you simply because the people with the most power like to exclude you and people like you because they themselves can not imagine loving the way you do, that you will never be able to give your loved one the protection that tthose other people can esily give theirs –

    if you live like that, and it is part of a broader issue of being constantly reminded that you are considered abnormal, that there are many people who hate you without ever having met you, that hating you and people like you is a central part of many peoples understanding of the world –

    if all of that were your reality, and then finally, finally your country reaches the point where at least one very important aspect of life no longer automatically excludes you, where you can chose to legally be a family with your partner just as all those people have allways been allowed to be with theirs-

    and then you go in to get the paperwork ready, and the person whose job it ist to help you, who is getting paid to help you, this person says “No. I don’t care about the law. I don’t care that it is illegal to descriminate against you in this way. I don’t care that this is the job I am being paid to do. My right to hate you is more important than your right to become a family legally with your partner”-

    I think that could cause quite a lot of pain, no matter how easy it might be to get a licence somewhere else. Because this fight is supposed to be over. This is supposed to be a time for celebration. You want to marry your partner, and be happy about it – not have to be told yet again that you are considered unworthy. Not in this context, not by this person. There are more than enough battles left to fight. This one is supposed to be done.

    She is (very likely, I am just trying to imagine it) causing real pain.

    (And while I agree that people should leave her kids out of it (and her looks, for fucks sake), I do think that the fact that her religion changed recently doesn’t meann that we have to act as if her past before this change never happened. It’s the same way I don’t give a damn about any politicians extra martial affair unless that politician is a hypocrite blathering about the sanctity of marriage to hurt other people. )

  6. 6
    hf says:

    I want to second TooManyJens, and add the following.

    1. The claim that she “converted to Christianity” is statistically unlikely; it sounds like the false claims made by converts to evangelical sects who deny that anyone else counts as Christian; and the most mainstream news article I saw on the subject actually said she converted to the Apostolic Church. Likely her past self would have at least said she believed in Jesus and called herself Christian (in the right circumstances).

    2. In order for this to matter for the claim of legal hypocrisy – the claim that she wouldn’t want an old-school Catholic clerk to make law for her county – she would have to currently see her remarriage as a sin that she shouldn’t have been allowed to commit. Does anyone in the world believe she thinks that? We can imagine a hypothetical sect that forbids members to remarry, but allows them to keep marriages which predate their conversion. But does her church do that, and does anyone actually expect her to agree that her marriage was a sin?

    3. Still, I agree that some of the talk I’ve seen online goes beyond this. The image above talks about extra-marital sex; that might be relevant to how a Sedava-whatever Catholic would see her current marriage, if this hypothetical fanatic knew her history, but despite using a giant block of text the author fails to make that clear. (I’m being slightly unfair. The wall of text works as a joking exaggeration of everything she’s supposed to be leaving out of her declaration. But my point is that you need to go to a specific warring definition of “sanctity of marriage” before a conflict arises.)

  7. 7
    HeelBearCub says:

    I think crowing about her multiple marriage history, and the timing of the births of her children has to be seen as getting substantial lift from exactly what Barry talks about. I don’t see any memes that emphasize the idea that a Catholic county clerk might, say, only issue marriage licenses to Catholics, as marriage outside the one true church is a sin.

    But, Davis is being hypocritical. She would certainly have objected if her marriage license was denied on religious grounds. Raising that point seems relevant and fair. The two things seem entangled such that no matter how fair one is, it can still be taken the wrong way. I’m not sure that’s even solvable.

  8. 8
    Patrick says:

    All that’s going on here is schadenfreude. Good luck reasoning people out of it. They’re enjoying saying mean things about someone they hate, and enjoying unpleasant things happening to someone they hate, and they’re justifying it via a self righteous insistence that they’re defending the downtrodden. That last bit is the big problem- if you can’t get people past that, they’ll never acknowledge that the first and second bit is morally wrong.

    This shouldn’t even be national news. It’s a local problem that the local legal system has adequately addressed from day one. Proper protocol has been followed, and the right answer is coming to fruition in the expected time frame.

  9. 9
    SamC says:


    If she is anything like the conservatives I know, she would completely respect the conscience of a conservative Catholic clerk who didn’t want to give her a marriage license because of her previous divorces. It is surprising to me that no one here has yet considered that possibility.

    On the question of her hypocrisy, many Christian denominations, unlike traditional Catholics, think that it is a sin to divorce and remarry, but, once you are already remarried and have repented, it should be forgiven without living in celibacy or annulments. Not saying that’s consistent, but I assume that’s what she believes.

  10. 10
    Ben Lehman says:

    Most of the “a county clerk of a different religion would be able to XYZ” that I’ve seen are, not surprisingly, just anti-Muslim prejudice.

    (don’t do that either.)

  11. 11
    Nathaniel says:

    Are you saying that Baptists aren’t Christian? Cause that’s what Davis was before she started going to her current church.

  12. 12
    Vilfredo says:


    I don’t agree that her actions are small-scale. County clerks have a lot of power to affect people’s quality of life, and if she’s willing to discriminate on this issue, I believe she’s willing to discriminate on others. And even if the effect of her actions were negligible, the question of principle here isn’t. She isn’t standing up for her personal right not to sign a marriage license (in which case she should resign anyway, since she clearly can’t treat all people equally under the law); she wants the “right” to refuse to let her entire office grant same-sex marriage licenses. It’s abuse of power by a public official for personal reasons, plain and simple.


    those conservatives you know might respect the Catholic’s beliefs. I am not sure they’d respect said Catholic preventing an entire government office from serving them.

  13. 13
    SamC says:


    She is refusing to issue all marriage licenses, not just marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Also, she is fine with her office issuing licenses as long as the licenses do not bear her name. I think this is silly, but there you go.

    No; I meant that I’m 90% sure my conservative friends would respect the Catholic clerk’s conscience in the sense of just driving to another county. I’m not saying that the situations are the same at all; I’m just saying that, to the extent it is a good analogy, I’m fairly certain Kim Davis would bite the bullet.

    I recently read a purportedly true story about a Christian couple who was searching for an engagement ring. They found the perfect ring, and it was engraved with a verse from Ruth (Ruth 1:16). The jeweler, who happened to be an observant Jewish person, asked, “Are you a Jewish?” The couple said, “No.” And he said, “Then I can’t sell you that ring. That verse has too much meaning for the Jewish people, and I wouldn’t feel right selling it to you.” (Obviously, not all observant Jewish people would feel that way, but this particular person did.)

    The couple, of course, was disappointed that the jeweler wouldn’t sell them the ring, but they admired and respected his conviction and just went to find another ring.

    The situations are obviously very different. Christians, unlike gay people, are not a historically discriminated-against minority (at least in this country). Also, a jeweler is not a government official.

    My only point is that, to me, the Catholic example indicated that TooManyJens and others on this thread underestimated how consistent Kim Davis–and others like Kim Davis–are willing to be.

  14. 14
    TooManyJens says:

    I don’t know if she’s consistent or not. It was a question, after all, not a statement. I think it could go either way.

  15. 15
    SamC says:


    Thanks for the clarification. I misunderstood what you intended.

  16. 16
    Ben David says:

    I worked for NY State – engineering.
    The job involved being on call for emergencies. When the boiler failed in the battered-women’s shelter, I got the call.

    I am also a Sabbath observant Jew. And – like every other American – I don’t surrender my conscience when I show up at work, nor should I have to.

    But there was no problem working out “on-call” rotations that accommodated me while serving the public.

    Why is this even an issue?

    It seems that both sides are aching for a test case.

  17. 17
    Lirael says:

    In addition to the stuff that Amp talks about here – and I may go into this more on my own blog – I’m unhappy to see people who are ostensibly fellow leftists and/or liberals gloating about someone being incarcerated for a nonviolent (though deeply immoral and wrong, IMO) act of protest. Or, if you want to get technical about it, for nonviolently disobeying an order from an official of the law. I can understand thinking that there’s no reasonable alternative to incarcerating her (as her supporters would just pay any fines). But when people gloat and cheer, I, someone who provides first aid to protesters (some of whom have been arrested or attacked for nonviolent acts of protest, including nonviolently disobeying police orders), and currently going through the criminal justice process on my own protest-related arrest, am watching them, and thinking through the implications, and the implications aren’t pretty.

  18. 18
    Ampersand says:

    Ben David – the judge offered Kim Davis the option of not signing same-sex marriage licenses herself, but allowing her deputies to do it. She refused that.

    It’s not “both sides” itching for a test case. Davis is the one refusing the sort of “on call rotations” that you’re suggesting here.

  19. 19
    Max G. says:

    If Davis wins, politicians throughout the county will campaign either for county clerk, or for the office that appoints the county clerk, on the promise that they will refuse on religious grounds to issue licenses. The right to marry will become an empty promise in most of the US, just as the right to an abortion is an empty right in much of the country today. Davis is forcing a test case on whether the right to marry is a real right, or just a Supreme Court head fake.

    Oh – and on this:
    “The claim that she’s being a hypocrite isn’t even true.”
    When Davis leaves her current husband and begs her first husband to take her back, then she won’t be a hypocrite. For now, she is one.

  20. 20
    Ampersand says:

    I don’t think there’s any realistic chance that Davis will win her case, legally.

    And if she does win her case, and it becomes a precedent all over the country, then that indicates a much bigger and more widespread problem than Kim Davis.