Tag Archives: kim davis

Cruz says prayers helped persuade him to vote for ‘utterly amoral’ Trump

“After many months of careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience, I have decided that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump,” Ted Cruz wrote on Facebook yesterday.

It was a stunning change of heart and soul for the Texas senator, who traded vicious schoolyard barbs and accusations with the GOP nominee during the presidential primary race. The New York billionaire nicknamed Cruz “Lyin’ Ted,” made disparaging remarks about the physical appearance of Cruz’s wife, and linked his father to the John F. Kennedy assassination.

In return, Cruz, called Trump a “pathological liar” and “utterly amoral.”

Nonetheless, political observers were stunned at the Republican National Convention when Cruz encouraged Republicans to “vote your conscience” rather than for Trump. The comment prompted a chorus of boos from the floor.

Even more perplexing was Cruz’s dramatic about-face yesterday. Cruz said he was following through on a promise to support his party’s presidential nominee, but it’s more likely that he caved into political pressure — along with God’s direction — to back Trump .

Since the convention speech, polls have suggested that Cruz’s popularity was slipping nationally and in Texas — where he could face a primary challenger for re-election in 2018, The Associated Press reported.

His base supported his refusal to back Trump at first, but the mood shifted recently. The vast majority of calls coming into Cruz’s office had turned increasingly negative in recent weeks with many voters urging him to support Trump to prevent a Clinton victory, according to Republicans familiar with the situation. The Republicans spoke on the condition of anonymity because these were internal discussions.

But at the same time, the large staff that worked on Cruz’s presidential bid pushed him not to endorse. Most refused to accept jobs with the Trump campaign when offered following Cruz’s departure from the primary campaign this spring. And as recently as this week, some warned they would not work for Cruz again if he officially endorsed Trump.

Cruz’s decision also comes as he weighs the prospect of a 2020 presidential bid, where Trump’s donors could play an important role.

‘Lucifer in the flesh’

Within the Republican Party, Cruz is probably the only leader who’s despised as deeply as the nominee. His outrageous antics included a 21-hour filibuster on the Senate floor in 2013 during which he recited Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham to protest the funding of the Affordable Care Act. Days later, he shut down the entire federal government.

Insiders said the incident demonstrated Cruz’s shameless penchant for self-promotion rather than his strict adherence to far-right ideology. Among GOP colleagues, he’s known as a man who’d “stab” his best friend in the back to gain even the tiniest political advantage.

When fellow GOP hopeful Mike Huckabee staged a press conference last year to lead Kentucky clerk Kim Davis out of jail, Cruz showed up and tried to elbow his way in front of the cameras, only to be pushed away by Huckabee’s bodyguards. Davis, a three-time divorcee and self-acknowledged adulterer, became a religious cause celebre for going to jail rather than sign same-sex marriage licenses.

In a post-retirement interview, former House Speaker John Boehner called Cruz “Lucifer in the flesh.”

“I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life,” Boehner told an audience at Stanford University a few months after he stepped down as the GOP Congressional leader.

Like Cruz, Trump had to eat a lot of crow over the endorsement.

“I am greatly honored by the endorsement of Sen. Cruz,” Trump said Friday. “We have fought the battle and he was a tough and brilliant opponent. I look forward to working with him for many years to come in order to make America great again.”

It must have been humbling for a man with Trump’s ego to utter such fine words about Cruz.

In May, just hours before ending his presidential campaign, Cruz said things about Trump that seemed to leave no room for reconciliation.

“This man is a pathological liar,” Cruz said. “He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth.”

“Donald will betray his supporters on every issue,” the Texas senator added, while calling Trump “utterly amoral,” “a narcissist,” “a bully,” and “a serial philanderer,” among other things.

Clinton addressed Cruz’s endorsement on social media by posting a tweet from Cruz himself calling on Trump to release his tax returns. The Texas senator released nine years of his returns, while Trump has refused to release any.

Her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, took a dig at Cruz for expressing support despite the personal insults Trump rained down on him during the primaries.

“If somebody said that about my dad, they would never have me as a supporter for anything,” Kaine said as he campaigned in Texas.

But in politics, it’s all in a day’s work.


Poll shows majority says clerks should issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples

Linda Massey opposes gay marriage. But she was incensed last summer to see that Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk, was refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

“If the government says you have to give out those marriage licenses, and you get paid to do it, you do it,” says the 64-year-old retiree from Lewiston, Michigan. “That woman,” she said of Davis, “should be out of a job.”

Americans like Massey are at the heart of a shift in public opinion, an Associated Press-GfK poll has found. For the first time, most Americans expect government officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even over religious objections.

It’s partly a matter of expecting public servants to do their jobs. But more broadly, the issue touches on a familiar dispute over which constitutional value trumps which: religious freedom, or equality under the law?

The question in recent months has entangled leaders with political sway, among them Pope Francis and the 2016 presidential contenders. But it’s not a new conflict for a nation that has long wrestled with the separation of church and state.

Where Davis’s answer was the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom — and she served jail time to back it up — a majority of respondents don’t buy that argument when it comes to public officials issuing marriage licenses. That’s a shift since an AP-GfK survey in July, when Americans were about evenly split. Then, 49 percent said officials with religious objections should be exempt from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and 47 percent said they should be required to issue them.

Now, just 41 percent favor an exemption and 56 percent think they should be required to issue the licenses.

That shift was especially stark among Republicans. A majority of them — 58 percent — still favor religious exemptions for officials issuing marriage licenses, but that’s down 14 points since 72 percent said so in July.

The timing of the surveys is important, coming during rapid developments in the politics of gay rights and religious freedom.

Public opinion has favored same-sex marriage in recent years and some politicians – President Barack Obama, 2016 presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton and some members of Congress among them – have come around to that view. In June, the Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide.

The cultural change has influenced the governing bodies of some of the most conservative religions, including the Catholic Church under Pope Francis and the Mormon Church, which last week called for compromises between protecting religious liberties and prohibiting discrimination. Both institutions are trying to accommodate society’s shifting views while keeping a firm grip internally on their own doctrines against gay marriage and homosexual activity. And both churches steered clear of the appearance of backing Davis. The Vatican said the pope’s brief meeting with her in Washington should not be construed as a sign of support.

Mormon leader Dallin H. Oaks last week told a closed gathering of judges and clergy in Sacramento, California, that when conflicts between religion and law rise and are decided, citizens of a democracy must follow court rulings.

Davis, a Democrat, Apostolic Christian and clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, became the face of religious Americans who bristle at government requirements that conflict with their beliefs, whether those mandates cover gay marriage, contraception or abortion referrals. On June 27 — the day after the high court ruling — avis refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses. In September she spent five days in jail for defying a court order to issue the licenses. Affixing her name to the certificate, she wrote in a statement, “would violate my conscience.” After serving her jail sentence, Davis returned to work – but her name no longer appears on marriage licenses for gay couples.

More generally, the poll offers evidence that Americans remain slightly more likely to say that it’s more important for the government to protect religious liberties than the rights of gays and lesbians when the two come into conflict, 51 percent to 45 percent. But that, too, is a slight shift since July, when 56 percent said it’s more important to protect religious liberties.

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,027 adults was conducted online Oct. 15 to Oct. 19, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

WiGWAG: WESTBORO V. KIM DAVIS and other wigs and wags


The media harlots of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church were not about to let the Kim Davis controversy go without getting in on the publicity. Davis glowed in the national spotlight in September by going to jail rather than issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, citing her religious beliefs. Westboro members staged a protest at the office of the “fake Christian” (their words), accusing her of adultery, divorce and general harlotry — and not of the media kind.

Bare not necessity

And now we’ll really find out who was buying Playboy for the articles. The magazine Hugh Hefner founded in 1953 will cease to publish fully nude photographs of women. Still, the magazine will feature a PG-13 “Playmate of the Month” and WiG isn’t expecting that to win Playboy any accolades from Ms.

Hairy situation

Alerted by a passerby that bearded men with a black flag were acting suspiciously at a castle ruins in southern Sweden, police found to their relief that it wasn’t an ISIS group but a meeting of hirsute do-gooders. The co-founder of the Swedish chapter of the Bearded Villains said the incident ended with police acknowledging their mistake and even ignoring the brotherhood’s illegal parking. Bearded Villains promotes equality and does charity work.

Please, don’t shoot the bears

Gun advocates pressured the city of Houston into forcing the Houston Zoo to lift its ban on long firearms and are taking aim at other zoos with longstanding bans on weapons, including Milwaukee’s. Parents and children gathered at the Houston Zoo earlier this fall to protest the lifting of the weapons ban. The signs they carried read, “Panthers not Pistols” and “Hey Gun Lobby, quit monkeying around.”

The real Siri

Susan Bennett, a resident of suburban Atlanta, has broken her silence and revealed that hers is the voice of Siri, Apple’s voice-activated virtual assistant. Apple won’t confirm it, but an audio-forensics expert with 30 years of experience studied both voices and said he’s “100 percent” certain the two are the same. Bennett, who won’t divulge her age, fell into voice work by accident in the 1970s.

Subway spinach supply

This is the stuff urban legends are made of, but not the stuff Italian sub sandwiches should contain. A man claims a sandwich ordered at a Subway in Lincoln City, Oregon, contained a dead mouse. The customer said his friend asked a Subway employee to add spinach to his Italian sub. The employee scraped the bottom of a bin and plopped the spinach and a mouse on the bread. A health inspector later determined the rodent probably arrived in the spinach.

Cleanup on aisle four

Shoppers at a Target store in California had to cover their kids’ ears when what sounded like the soundtrack of a porn film starring two women blasted from the store’s audio system. “I heard female voices making sexual noises and telling each other ‘Do this’ and ‘Do that,’” a mom who was present told the San Jose Mercury News. “My son asked me, ‘Why are they hurting the ladies?’ And I said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s OK.’” 

Mayor Claus

The voters of North Pole, Alaska, recently elected a write-in candidate to the city council. His name is Santa Claus and he’s the former president of the North Pole Chamber of Commerce. 

Married on the run

Stephanie Reinhart wanted a short and sweet ceremony. Mark Jockel wanted a big wedding surrounded by friends and family. The couple compromised by marrying at the 8-mile mark of the Chicago Marathon in the city’s Boystown neighborhood. Reinhart wore a white running outfit and held flowers. Jockel wore a tuxedo T-shirt. They exchanged vows under a garden arch decorated with race medals. The couple, who met two years ago through the Chicago Area Runners Association, were married in less than four minutes, surrounded by thousands.

Fair and phony?

A regular guest commentator on Fox News is being held on charges of falsely claiming he worked as an “Outside Paramilitary Special Operations Officer” for the CIA for nearly three decades. Federal authorities arrested Wayne Simmons, 62, after a federal grand jury indicted him on charges of major fraud, wire fraud and making false statements to the government. Prosecutors say Simmons had a “significant criminal history, including convictions for a crime of violence and firearms offenses.”

Trump mask hot in Mexico

Two of the hottest Halloween costumes in Mexico this year are the country’s most wanted man — and its most hated. Striped prison jumpers and detailed latex masks representing the mustachioed, twice-escaped drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman are selling like hotcakes. Another popular getup this year is Donald Trump, the most hated man in Mexico. A fast-selling mask captures Trump with mouth agape and caricatures his signature blond combover.

Mormon Church leader criticizes Kentucky clerk Kim Davis for denying marriage licenses

The Mormon Church staked a deeper claim to middle ground in American society, advocating for compromises between protecting religious liberties and prohibiting discrimination and criticizing Kentucky clerk Kim Davis for refusing to license gay marriages.

“We may have cultural differences, but we should not have ‘culture wars,'” Mormon leader Dallin H. Oaks declared.

“On the big issues … both sides should seek a balance, not a total victory,” he said. “For example, religionists should not seek a veto over all non-discrimination laws that offend their religion, and the proponents of non-discrimination should not seek a veto over all assertions of religious freedom.”

Oaks’ speech marked another landmark moment in the conservative religion’s transformation from a faith that frowned on gays and lesbians to one becoming more welcoming and compassionate, albeit in small steps that may seem nominal to outsiders.

As with the Roman Catholic Church under Pope Francis, the conservative Mormons are trying to assert a softer position in society, while holding firm inside the church to its own doctrines against gay marriage and homosexual activity.

The Mormons chose Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles that guides The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to give the speech, the most detailed yet reflecting the new approach to what Mormons call “same-gendered attraction.” He brings credibility as a former Utah Supreme Court judge who also once served as a law clerk to Chief Justice Earl Warren on the U.S. Supreme Court, church officials said.

The discourse was delivered to a closed gathering of judges and clergy in Sacramento, California. A copy of the prepared remarks was provided to The Associated Press.

Oaks declared himself devoted to both church doctrine and the laws of a democratic society. But when conflicts between them arise and are decided, citizens of a democracy must follow court rulings, he said.

“Government officials must not apply these duties selectively according to their personal preferences – whatever their source,” Oaks said. “A county clerk’s recent invoking of religious reasons to justify refusal by her office and staff to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples violates this principle.”

Oaks didn’t call out Davis by name, but his reference was clear, and confirmed by church officials.

The “fairness for all” approach now advocated by the Mormons is essential to protecting religious liberties in an open society where different religions co-exist, Oaks asserted. This question isn’t academic, but personal, he added: His great-grandfather served time in a territorial prison for breaking a federal law intended to punish him for his religious beliefs, and his wife’s great-great-grandfather was murdered by an anti-Mormon mob.

“It is better to try to live with an unjust law than to contribute to the anarchy that a young lawyer named Abraham Lincoln anticipated when he declared, ‘There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law,'” Oaks said.

After the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses altogether in Rowan County, Kentucky rather than comply with rulings she said violate her personal religious beliefs. She was released from jail after members of her staff agreed to comply with a federal judge’s order to issue licenses to all legally eligible couples in her stead. The deputy clerks removed her name from the forms.

Once she was released, she further altered the forms to declare they were being issued under a federal court order.

The American Civil Liberties Union now wants U.S. District Judge David Bunning to order Davis and her employees to reissue the licenses without alterations, and to fine her or appoint someone to replace her for this purpose if she continues to refuse. The judge has yet to rule.

In another balancing act, the Mormon Church decided to maintain its longtime affiliation with the Boy Scouts this summer, despite the Scouts’ decision to end its ban on gay troop leaders.

Spencer Clark, the executive director of Mormons for Equality, was complimentary of most of Oaks’ speech but took exception to the point that everybody should get something when laws are made. His group advocates for full equality for LGBT people.

“Making sure that segregationists ‘got something’ was rightfully not the goal of the civil rights movement,” Clark said. “Neither should the LGBT rights movement settle for less than full equal protection under the law.”

Defense counsel representing Kim Davis deemed a hate group

Kim Davis’ lawyer stood onstage in a Washington, D.C., hotel and pointed to a photo on the screen. It showed 100,000 people packed into a Peruvian soccer stadium, Mat Staver told the crowd, all there to pray for the Kentucky clerk battling against gay marriage.

The crowd erupted.

It wasn’t true.

Staver’s firm, the Liberty Counsel, which revealed Davis’ secret meeting with Pope Francis, has been accused by advocacy groups of peddling misrepresentations in the past. Yet it has become the main source of details about the controversial pope meeting.

Online sleuths quickly debunked the Peru story Staver told at the Values Voter Summit, a conference for the conservative Family Research Council. The photo was from a year-old gathering unrelated to Davis, who spent five days in jail for defying a court order and refusing to license gay marriages. Staver could provide no evidence of a massive Davis rally. He called it a mistake and blamed miscommunication with the Peruvian authorities who gave him the photo.

The next day, the firm dropped a bombshell. It said Pope Francis, on his celebrated visit to America, secretly met with Davis. The pope hugged her, thanked her for her courage and told her to “stay strong,” Liberty Counsel said. The Vatican has said the pope had a brief meeting with Davis that should not be seen as support for her stance.

Many on the religious right hail the Florida-based Liberty Counsel, which bills itself as a nonprofit committed to “restoring the culture by advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the family.”

“They’re willing to stand up for our rights under the Constitution, they’re not backing down,” said Nick Williams, a probate judge in Alabama who has also pledged never to issue a marriage licenses to a same-sex couple and sought guidance from the Liberty Counsel. Williams compared the federal court system to the tyrannical kings in the Bible: “I’m glad we have a law firm willing to stand up to the kings of our time.”

But critics watched in exasperation as the organization rocketed to national celebrity alongside Davis.

The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the Liberty Counsel as an anti-gay hate group for spreading false information.

“A group that regularly portrays gay people as perverse, diseased pedophiles putting Western civilization at risk are way, way over the line,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the center.

The Liberty Counsel has connected homosexuality to higher rates of promiscuity and incest, Potok said, despite scientific evidence to the contrary. The firm opposes laws banning hate crimes and supports discredited conversion therapies that purport to turn homosexuals into heterosexuals. Staver once declared that the Boy Scouts would become a “playground for pedophiles” once it allowed gay troop leaders.

Staver, his hair bright white and his ties usually red, contends his quotes were taken out of context and he has legal arguments for the rest: hate crime laws infringe on free speech, he believes, and gay conversion therapies should be available to those who want them because he believes in “personal autonomy.”

“It is irresponsible and reckless to call someone a hate group because you disagree with them,” he said.

He added that he can’t be considered a hater because he loves all of God’s creation.

Williams also came to his defense: the Bible warned that Christians would be persecuted for standing strong for their faith, he noted.

“Jesus told us we would be hated for his name,” he said. “For standing for what we stand for, people will hate us. It happened to the disciples, but it’s also happening today.”

Staver grew up in Florida. He told The Associated Press in a phone interview that his father was an abusive alcoholic who his Catholic mother divorced when he was young. She worked three jobs and raised him alone, he said, and he went through the motions of Catholicism until an evangelical pastor saved him from sin as a young man.

He became a pastor himself in Kentucky, though he shied away from social issues until he saw a film in 1982 about abortion. He resolved to go to law school to fight for traditional family values. He graduated from the University of Kentucky’s law school, moved back to Florida with his wife, Anita, and they started the Liberty Counsel in 1989.

For years they dabbled in causes against abortion, the “War on Christmas” and other hot-button topics in the American culture wars.

In 2000, the firm threatened to sue a Florida library that offered a “Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry” certificate to kids who read the Harry Potter book series. Five years later, they sent letters complaining that a Wisconsin elementary school put on a decades-old play called “The Little Christmas Tree,” about a lonely pine searching for a family, which sets a song to the tune of ‘’Silent Night” but does not mention Jesus.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, has called Staver a courageous legal scholar. 

Civil liberties advocates disagree. 

“There is an enormous amount of bluster amid his legal arguments,” said Barry Lynn, a minister and executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who has debated Staver on religious freedom issues. “It looks to me like he’s making claims that will get his clients great publicity, but not necessarily get them victories.”

Staver stands firm on his contributions to American jurisprudence. His firm has been involved in 60 same-sex marriage cases. It has 10 full-time attorneys, and dozens more across the country willing to work for free to promote the cause. In 2013, the firm hauled in more than $4 million, according to tax returns.

As Davis defied a series of federal court orders and was sent to jail, Staver cast her as a heroine called into battle by God. He compared her actions to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln. She received 20,000 pieces of mail in jail, he said.

“I’ve lost the ability to be surprised at how easy it is to become the next Joan of Arc,” said Lynn. “When you make heroes out of people who refuse to accept the rule of law and who fail to acknowledge the dignity of other human beings, you are on a very dangerous path.”

Staver said the meeting with the pope validates his arguments about Davis’ rights to conscientious objection. He rejects even the suggestion he might wake up one day and discover himself on the wrong side of history.

Last week, he showed the crowd at the Values Voter Summit the photo of the imaginary Peruvian prayer rally and declared its significance in the battle against Christian oppression.

“That, my friends, is happening around the world,” he said. “When one person stands it has an impact and Kim Davis will continue to stand for her lord and savior Jesus Christ.”

The Pope and Kim Davis PR nightmare needs more of the Golden Rule, less of the 9th Commandment

As a longtime LGBT activist with experience in dealing with the Catholic church, primarily related to the child abuse scandal here in the U.S., I have watched closely as the new pope brings hope in many Catholics, myself included, with his initial messages of “Who am I to judge” related to LGB people (he has made comments about trans people that are much more hostile hence the exclusion of the T).

His recent trip to the U.S was something I looked forward to, to the point of accepting an invitation to the White House for his arrival ceremony, which I attended with my partner and my 87-year-old devoutly Catholic aunt. And overall it went well, until Kim Davis (and her legal “counsel”) decided to drag her lies and disingenuousness into the debate.

At the trip began I was hopeful, despite the World Conference on Families rejecting LGBT participation or content. I knew many LGBT Catholics and allies who organized and spoke out prior to and during the historic trip.

I was heartened by the media including issues related to the LGBT community as they intersect with Catholicism, especially journalists like Maria Shriver who regularly brought up the “who am I to judge” comments and expressing hope they would result in some more discussion of our communities in the church.

Thomas Roberts put together a very nuanced and thoughtful panel interview that was aired in several segments on MSNBC about Catholics marginalized by the church, including LGBT people. As you can see from the photo I was a participant in this vibrant, diverse discussion.

And while some general references toward the end of the trip by the Pope to “traditional families” and “marriage tradition” (that serve as code that makes most LGBT people uncomfortable) I was, as a progressive who knows full well that change in the Catholic Church is a glacial process, pretty pleased with how it all went.

For example, out gay Catholic Mo Rocca participated in the mass in New York City. Dignity, GLAAD, the Family Acceptance Project, Fortunate Families and others spoke out and gathered in Philadelphia to discuss and organize.

Enter Kim Davis and her lies.

She may not be Catholic but I think the 9th Commandment is pretty universal. Kind of like the Golden Rule the Pope invoked when speaking to the U.S. Congress.

The firestorm began when David and her lawyers from the Liberty Council went all over the national media talking about a “private meeting” with the Pope, his blessing her and telling her to “stay strong,” and insinuating that he expressed support for her refusal to do her job.

The Vatican, to its own detriment, dragged its heels and gave non-committal responses to journalists as Davis and her team continued to wring out every bit of attention they could — without producing any evidence of a “meeting” — with any media outlet that expressed interest. Not enough media were responsible to note that just last week another fraud was perpetrated by Davis and her team about a rally that included grossly exaggerated information.

Finally, official reaction is coming late and only under tremendous pressure, and has made this into a public relations as well as religion and political story. Headlines now scream “Vatican Source: Pope Blindsided By Meeting With Controversial Kentucky Clerk.”

Ahem. One would think the Vatican would have a better communications team, but as I remember vividly from the abuse scandals, I am not that surprised. A tin ear to how the media — and the community — in the U. S. can mobilize is something I am familiar with.

So this is their dilemma now. The Vatican allowed Kim Davis to dominate the message and prompt reaction from LGBT Catholics groups that no longer jibes with what they are saying really happened.

So it turns out that Davis, like so many others during this trip, was able to shake the Pope’s had, be blessed and exchange a few words, which I am sure he said to others. Private meeting? Encouraging her for her conviction? I doubt he even knew who she was, frankly, and the whole think stinks of making a mountain of good PR out of a molehill of an interaction.

Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, the head of the Holy See Press Office released a statement, which said in part:

Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City. Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the Pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.

The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.

Uh-huh. So while he expressed support of conscientious objection being an important right for all there are still more questions than answers.

In addition, the Pope’s reported denial of a meeting with the Dalai Lama is also bad optics, if that turns out to be true as well.

I’ll pray for some clarification in the meantime. And may Kim Davis and Liberty Counsel be duly judged for their disingenuous and dishonest behavior. I’ll call is un-Christ-like and leave it at that.

Who am I to judge?

Follow Cathy Renna on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cathyrenna.

Editor’s note: This opinion piece first appeared on the Huffington Post at huffingtonpost.com and is published with the author’s permission.

An open letter to Kim Davis | Signatures are invited

As you may know, when you fall in love with someone, you hand your heart and soul over to them. Anyone who has committed to sharing their life with another human and forming a family unit knows that it is the biggest and most rewarding adventure you will ever take.

You know that all of the laughs and all of the tears won’t fall on the echo of an empty room, but will instead be received in the warm embrace of someone who has pledged to see you at your best and love you at your worst. You know that person is there to help pick you up on those days when the odds are stacked against you. You know that you never have to do the dishes alone.

When I met John, I had no idea that I would spend the next two decades building a life with the man who would one day inspire me to demand our right to be recognized by our country. I earned the right to lawfully call him my husband, just as you have a right to call your husband such. Love transcends gender.

You’re imposing the same indignities on couples in Rowan County that John and I suffered when Ohio would not legally recognize us as a married couple. Thankfully, the law is now changed so that nobody should ever have to experience the injustice that John and I endured. No one is above the law, Kim, not even you.

I joined the fight to have our love treated equally precisely because our love is equal. The love that any family shares is no more or less worthy than that of any other, and it’s not fair for you, or anyone, to judge. It’s your job to simply do your job. Issuing a marriage license at work is not a personal endorsement of my marriage any more than recording a deed is an endorsement of my home ownership.

It’s simply following the rules in this civil society in which we’ve all agreed to be members.

What truly matters is the kindness and compassion we share with our families and with those around us. Love makes a family. And as of June 2015 the federal government agrees.

I did not fight for my right to call John my husband in vain. I stand today in his memory and proudly declare him my legally wedded spouse. Do not stand in the way of others seeking their legal right to have their love recognized.


Jim Obergefell for ACLU Action

On the Web …

To sign the open letter with Jim in support of marriage equality, please visit: 

Obama: Religious freedom no defense for denying constitutional rights

Freedom of religion isn’t reason enough to deny any American their constitutional rights, President Barack Obama said Sunday as he addressed members of the LGBT community, one of his major sources of political and financial support.

Speaking at a Democratic Party fundraiser, Obama said while Americans hold dear the constitutional right to practice their religion free from government interference, that right can’t be used to deny constitutional rights to others.

“We affirm that we cherish our religious freedom and are profoundly respectful of religious traditions,” Obama said during remarks that were interrupted by repeated applause and cheers. “But we also have to say clearly that our religious freedom doesn’t grant us the freedom to deny our fellow Americans their constitutional rights.”

“And that even as we are respectful and accommodating genuine concerns and interests of religious institutions, we need to reject politicians who are supporting new forms of discrimination as a way to scare up votes. That’s not how we move America forward,” he added. That was an apparent reference to some of the Republican presidential candidates.

Earlier this month, Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis spent several days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples despite a Supreme Court ruling that made same-sex unions legal nationwide. Davis said such marriages violate her Apostolic Christian faith.

Since being released, the Rowan County clerk has allowed marriage licenses to be issued, but only without her name and title. She also announced that she has left the Democratic Party and become a Republican.

Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in Obergefell v. Hodges, the legal case that led the Supreme Court in June to rule narrowly in favor of gay marriage, introduced Obama.

The president began by recalling for his supporters that “seven years ago, we came together not just to elect a president, but to reaffirm our faith in that most American of ideals: the notion that people, no matter where they come from … or who they love can change this country.”

He noted that everyone in the U.S., regardless of sexual orientation, is protected by a federal hate crimes law he signed in his first year as president, and that federal contractors are barred from terminating employees for being gay.

Obama got some of his biggest cheers and loudest applause when he said “we live in an America where `don’t ask, don’t tell’ is something that `don’t exist.'” Obama lifted the Pentagon policy that barred gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

“And tonight, thanks to the unbending sense of justice passed down through generations of citizens who never gave up hope that we could bring this country closer to our founding ideals … we now live in America where our marriages are equal as well,” he said.

Next weekend, Vice President Joe Biden will address members of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group, in Washington, D.C. The HRC is holding its national dinner, which traditionally features a key not speech from a politician and recognization of a number of celebrities who support equality rights for LGBT people.

Earlier on Oct. 3, Hillary Clinton will speak to the organization at a separate event. About 800 grassroots leaders from across the country will hear from Clinton, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president.

Pop and politics: Some campaigns hit high notes, some just off-key

Right-wing presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and anti-gay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis stepped forward, hands clasped, arms raised, signaling triumph, imitating Rocky Balboa.

Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” anthem blared as a crowd cheered the homophobic former governor of Arkansas and an anti-gay public servant who refused to do her job and carry out her oath of office.

Perhaps they should have chosen “Dixie,” because soon after the grandstanding, Survivor issued a statement from founder Jim Peterik on Facebook: “NO! We did not grant Kim Davis any rights to use ‘My Tune — The Eye Of The Tiger.’ I would not grant her the rights to use Charmin!”

Fueled by an Onion-like website, rumors circulated that Survivor would file a $1.2 million copyright infringement suit against Davis and Huckabee. No suit followed. However, Peterik sought a cease-and-desist letter from his publisher and joined the chorus of other musicians who have decried and denounced politicians — most of them Republicans — for misappropriating their musical messages or infringing on copyrights.

Neil Young tangled with Donald Trump earlier this summer, alleging the candidate was not authorized to use “Rockin’ in the Free World” in his campaigns. 

Trump and Ted Cruz heard from Michael Stipe of R.E.M. after using “It’s the End of the World as We Know It.” The singer-songwriter informed both candidates, “Go f*ck yourselves.”

Dropkick Monkeys sounded a similar refrain in January, after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker stepped onto the stage at the Iowa Freedom Summit to “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.” “Please stop using our music in any way … we literally hate you!!!” the band tweeted.

There’s a history of rockers and pop stars objecting to Republicans playing their songs:

Heart repeatedly asked Sarah “Barracuda” Palin to stop playing “Barracuda” at her rallies and again at the GOP convention in 2008. In the same campaign, Jackson Browne curbed John McCain’s use of “Running on Empty.” Tom Petty ordered Michele Bachmann to cease and desist playing “American Girl” in 2011. Rush challenged Rand Paul’s right to use “Spirit of the Radio” in 2010. David Byrne sued Charlie Crist — before his conversion to Democrat — for using “Road to Nowhere” in 2010 campaign ads. Isaac Hayes objected to Bob Dole’s campaign rewriting “Soul Man” to “Dole Man.” John Mellencamp, who has said he’s as “left wing as you can get,” acted to stop Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and McCain from co-opting “Our Country,” “Pink Houses” and “ROCK in the USA.”

And, perhaps most famously, Bruce Springsteen took on Ronald Reagan for using “Born in the USA” at campaign rallies. Springsteen went on to object when Dole and Pat Buchanan used the song.

It’s not that Springsteen is apolitical. When Barack Obama closed out his 2012 campaign in Madison, Springsteen was onstage and opened the rally with “No Surrender.”

Springsteen hasn’t publicly endorsed a candidate for 2016, but Neil Young is in Bernie Sanders’ camp. After demanding Trump stop playing his music, Young gifted “Rockin’ in the Free World” to the Vermont senator. Other Sanders supporters include Buckwheat Zydeco, Belinda Carlisle, drummer Jon Fishman of Phish, bassist Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Henry Rollins, Roger Waters and Lucinda Williams. 

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton supporters include 50 Cent, Paula Abdul, ASAP Rocky, Tony Bennett, Beyonce, Jon Bon Jovi, Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Carole King, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Tim McGraw, Ricky Martin, Moby, Morrissey, Ne-Yo, Snoop Dogg, Faith Hill, Ice-T, Elton John, Kanye West, Young Jeezy, Ariana Grande, Pharrell Williams and Katy Perry.

Clinton included music by some of those artists on her first campaign playlist, released when she kicked off her campaign in Central Park, arriving onstage to Sara Bareille’s “Brave.” That song is on the 14-tune playlist, along with Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” American Authors’ “Best Day of My Life” and “Believer,” and Perry’s “Roar.”

Perry, in a tweet, offered to write a campaign song for the former secretary of state, senator and first lady: “I told @hillaryclinton that I would write her a ‘theme’ song if she needs it.”

Clinton replied: “Well that’s not a Hard Choice. You already did! Keep letting us hear you Roar.”

So, it’s a good bet there will be no objection from the musician when “Roar” rallies the crowds at campaign stops and Clinton arrives to the lyrics, “I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire/’Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar.”

ACLU: Kentucky clerk Kim Davis failing to comply with judicial orders

The American Civil Liberties Union this week filed a motion in Kentucky District Court asserting that the Rowan County clerk’s office has failed to comply with orders that directed deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses without interference by Clerk Kim Davis.

The motion argues that the significant alteration of licenses at the direction of Davis — having a deputy sign them as a notary public rather than as a deputy clerk, removing any reference to the Rowan County clerk’s office, and stating that they are issued pursuant to court order — violates the court’s Sept. 3 order directing Davis and her deputies to issue licenses and its Sept. 8 order that released Davis from jail under the condition that she not interfere with the process.

“The clerk’s office needs to issue valid licenses that comply with the court’s orders,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project. “It’s sad that Ms. Davis has continued to interfere with the basic constitutional right of all loving couples to marry and that the plaintiff couples have to ask the court to intervene once again.”

The filing asks the court to order the clerk’s office to issue the same licenses that were issued on or before Sept. 8, when Davis was released from jail.

The motion also asks the court to order the deputy clerks to disregard any contrary instructions from Davis and requests that she be ordered to immediately stop interfering or face civil contempt fines and the placement of the clerk’s office into a receivership for the purpose of issuing marriage licenses.