So Kim Davis, the county clerk who was blocking gay couples from getting marriage licenses at her Kentucky offices, has been held in contempt and jailed until she comes to her senses and resigns or starts issuing the licenses. Immediately my social media blew up with a bunch of worrywart liberals who think this is the worst thing and it’s going to backfire by turning her in a martyr, etc. etc. These people are way overthinking this and are completely wrong. Davis needs to be in jail and these are the reasons why.
1) Rule of law. Look, the judge who found her in contempt has to follow the law, not the political opinions of a bunch of liberals who want to micromanage the optics of this. She broke the law. The penalty is jail. If we want to uphold rule of law, we should be consistent, instead of demanding it be manipulated for our political purposes.
2) It’s the only thing that will work. As Brian Beutler said, she’s not going to be moved by fines, since others will pay them for her. But jail will do it.
3) She has almost no support. Conservative media doesn’t back her. Republican candidates are avoiding the question. The talking point that all the wingnuts are trotting out on social media is that Davis is a Democrat, which is their way of disowning her. In order to be a martyr, you have to have people rallying behind you.
4) She’s already lost the fight. What a lot of people who are worrying about her becoming a martyr for the cause don’t realize is that the cause in question is being able to discriminate against gay couples without facing consequences. This isn’t about civil disobedience, where you take a noble stand on your beliefs, even in the face of negative consequences. On the contrary, Davis’s argument was that she shouldn’t have to pay for her beliefs by giving up her paycheck. Well, now she’s paying for her beliefs, so the fight is lost. There’s nowhere to go from here, because the argument that conservatives should be able to do what they want to whoever they want without accountability has just fallen apart.
5) The end game is really bad for conservatives. Prediction: Davis spends a day or two in jail, cracks, and agrees to resign or issue the licenses. She strikes me as someone who is not good at thinking things through and probably hasn’t considered what being in jail really means. Once she caves, the right is going to find her embarrassing and try to move on. She might get a couple of appearances on Fox News, but she’s also just such an irritating and uncharismatic person that they’re going to want to move on soon. It is possible that I underestimate her and she holds out for awhile, but again, I don’t see the end game being good for conservatives. They are already iffy about this lady and so the longer she sits in jail in a holding pattern, the more likely it is they forget her and move on.
6) People really don’t like the idea that a county clerk’s religious dogma should determine your rights instead of the rule of law. The right was doing better with bakers and florists, because they could always argue that it’s no big deal and you can just go to another baker if this one won’t serve you. But people don’t like the idea that you can simply be told you can’t get married. Real talk: If this woman wins, what’s to stop county clerks from declaring their religion forbids them from issuing licenses to cohabitating couples? To women that aren’t virgins? To non-Christians? Nothing. Which I think a lot more people grasp than you think.
7) This gets this over quickly. Once she caves, it’s done. The sooner this is over, the better. Jail will make that happen soon.