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OpEd: Kim Davis is No Civil Rights Heroine

Eye of the Tiger, the song made iconic by the film Rocky 3, the story of a champion at the height of his game, challenging the naysayers and holding steadfast to his title, this was the song that Kim Davis, county clerk in Rowan, Kentucky chose to greet her new flock of fans upon her release from jail this week—and she didn’t choose the song ironically.

Davis was placed in jail for contempt of court as she has chosen to uphold “God’s law” by denying same-sex couples (and now all couples) marriage licenses, instead of following the law of the Supreme Court of the United States.

The outcry from the Right-wing over their newly anointed martyr has been incredible, with the most boisterous supporter being former Arkansas Governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. "Having Kim Davis in federal custody removes all doubt of the criminalization of Christianity in our country. We must defend religious liberty and never surrender to judicial tyranny," he said.

Religious freedom has been a point of contention in this country since its inception.

Kim Davis Thanks Supporters 2:51

It has been used as a battle cry by Right-wing conservatives who believe that religious freedom provides them the legal cover they need in order to discriminate against those they disagree with. Their ideology would work in fact if we were operating under a Theocracy, a system of government ruled by God’s law, but we don’t.

We live in a Democracy, a system of government created for and run by the people—all people, who are able to vote for the representative of their choice.

In Rowan, Kentucky Kim Davis was elected to serve in public office and uphold the laws of the land. On June 26, 2015 the Supreme Court ruled that the United States would now recognize the marriages of same-sex couples nationwide. Elected official Kim Davis decided however that this law doesn’t apply to her and because she is the head of her office in Rowan County, she has elected to turn it into a theocratic fiefdom. Now that she is skirting the law put forth by the Supreme Court, the religious Right is hailing her as their new civil rights hero.

Let’s be clear, Kim Davis is no Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer or John Lewis.

Is she a freedom fighter? Sure, but there are in fact two types of freedom fighters: Those who fight for freedom to be extended to all people equally regardless of race, economic status, gender, sexual orientation and/or gender identity, etc. And the freedom fighters that fight to preserve their way of life, regardless of who is harmed or discriminated against in the process—this is Kim Davis and her bevy of followers.

Kim Davis is no heroine for justice. At best, she is an obstructionist and at worst she is a George Wallace impersonator, fighting a losing battle to preserve equality and justice for a few

MLK, Parks, Hamer and others broke local and state laws that barred them from accessing fair treatment under the law prescribed to in the constitution to all citizens.

For instance in the case of Brown vs. The Board of Education, the law was won to desegregate schools—southern states however decided to opt out of the ruling continuing their practice of segregation. Were southern segregationist freedom fighters? Sure, but they were fighting to preserve the freedom that white supremacy afforded them—regardless of who was hurt in the process.

As activist and author Van Jones wrote recently:

Yes, Kim Davis is a lawbreaker, for reasons of conscience. That in itself is no dishonor. But Davis is a particular kind of lawbreaker -- one who is using her local authority to try to block federal, judicial rulings. And those decisions are specifically designed to recognize the rights of a historically despised minority group. That kind of lawbreaking puts Kim Davis more in the tradition of former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, not of Martin Luther King.

Kim Davis is fighting for a pocket of the population that has been afforded due process and equal protection under the law. She has used these laws to run for office, vote and marry some four times and divorce.

Yet, she chooses to wage the power yielded to her to deny others the same freedoms she enjoys. This action, of denying rights, doesn’t paint her in the image of abolitionists, suffragists, freedom fighters or any other activists whose sole mission as a “despised minority” is to achieve parity with the majority, not segregate themselves and adopt a new set of principles with which to govern themselves.

Kim Davis is no heroine for justice. At best, she is an obstructionist and at worst she is a George Wallace impersonator, fighting a losing battle to preserve equality and justice for a few—who are desperate to preserve their way of life, by any means endowed to them by their creator, the laws of the land be damned.