Justice

Here's Who You Should Really Compare to Kim Davis

When a federal judge ordered her arrest last week, Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis claimed that her obligation to follow "God's law" superseded her responsibilities as a public servant, meaning that Davis would continue to defy the U.S. Supreme Court's June ruling that legalized same-sex marriage. The consequences of her inaction—in this case, five days in jail—led supporters to rally behind the clerk, drawing parallels between Davis and civil rights leaders, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks. Comedian Larry Wilmore also drew another historical comparison: former Alabama Governor George Wallace.

ATTN: debunked Davis' comparisons to King and Parks, explaining how they didn't hold up to history because Davis went to jail for denying same-sex couples their constitutional right to marriage, while King went to jail 29 times for speaking out against segregation and staging nonviolent protests to advance the civil rights of Black people in America.

Of course, that hasn't stopped some from perpetuating the idea of Davis as a Christian humanitarian comparable to King. But for those who understand why this trend is misinformed, another kind of historical parallel has taken off, as the clerk's opponents have noted in the past week. Rather than King, Davis seems to share an awful lot in common with Alabama governor George Wallace, who infamously defied federal authorities and stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama in 1963, blocking Black students from going to class.

"In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever," Wallace said at his 1963 Inaugural Address.

"I just want to give God the glory. His people have rallied and you are a strong people," Davis said following her release from jail on Tuesday. "Just keep on pressing, don't let down."

In essence, both Davis and Wallace relied upon loose interpretations of Bible scripture and law to justify their opposition to granting constitutional rights to those they politically disagreed with—minorities who had recently earned civil rights. Both were legally wrong to use their political authority to deny people their constitutionally protected rights, and both have been regarded as icons by their supporters.

Though Wallace repented in the 1970s, publicly apologizing to Black civil rights leaders for his actions as a segregationist, he is still widely remembered for his bigotry. The same could one day be said of Davis, whose legacy is sure to run counter to the progress of American politics in the 21st century.

Kim Davis Made a Pretty Bold Exit From Jail.

Kim Davis made a pretty bold exit from jail while "Eye of the Tiger" played as she took the stage.

Posted by ATTN: on Tuesday, September 8, 2015