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Kim Davis’ Personal Religion-Based Refusal to Issue Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples Just Cost Taxpayers $225,000

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Same-Sex Couple Who Were Refused License Wins Federal Court Decision

It was two years ago, just two weeks after the Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, when David Ermold and David Moore tried to obtain a marriage license. July 7, 2015. They were refused by Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who said she was acting “under God’s authority.”

The couple’s viral video kicked off a nationwide discussion pitting religious right activists against those who support the constitutional guarantee of equal protection and the freedom to marry. 

David Ermold and David Moore, known as “the Davids,” later that year obtained a marriage license, elsewhere, and were finally wed.

On Friday they won another victory. They will not be forced to pay legal fees of $225,000, caused when Davis repeatedly refused to issue them a marriage license. The Rowan County clerk had claimed doing so would violate her deeply held religious beliefs.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning jailed Davis for six days but she refused to relent, and was freed in a theatrical event during which then-presidential candidate Mike Huckabee swooped in.

While Ermold and Moore will not have to fork over hundreds of thousands of dollars, neither will Kim Davis, who is still the Rowan County clerk.

According to Kentucky.com, the State of Kentucky will pay the legal fees for Davis’ personal decision to not execute the functions of her job.

Judge Bunning “rejected holding Davis personally responsible for the debt because, he said, the couples prevailed against her in her ‘official capacity’ as a public official,” the paper adds.

“Davis represented the Commonwealth of Kentucky when she refused to issue marriage licenses to legally eligible couples. The buck stops there,” Bunning wrote Friday morning. 

“The plaintiffs prevailed by every measure of victory,” Bunning wrote. “Plaintiffs obtained marriage licenses that could not be revoked. And two of the plaintiff-couples married on those licenses. That is enduring relief. There is nothing more the court could do.”

Davis’ attorneys at Liberty Counsel, an anti-gay hate group, will appeal Judge Bunning’s decision, even though their client is not responsible for the fees.

“It is unfortunate that Kentucky taxpayers will likely bear the financial burden of the unlawful actions and litigation strategies of an elected official, but those same voters are free to take that information into account at the ballot box,” William Sharp, legal director for the ACLU of Kentucky, told Kentucky.com.

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RACISM AND SEXISM IN AMERICA

Senate Committee Postpones Confirmation Hearing on Biden OMB Pick After Manchin Leads Revolt Over Mean Tweets

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The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is postponing its Wednesday confirmation hearing for Neera Tanden, President Joe Biden’s pick to be the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), after Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced he will vote against her, based on her record of posting mean tweets.

Axios, first reporting the news, calls it “a potential death knell” for Tanden’s confirmation, although it could give the Biden White House time to try to shore up support among Republican Senators.

Tanden would be the first woman of color to head OMB.

Manchin’s stunning announcement Friday has led to three Republicans jumping on board, also announcing their opposition.

None of the opposition is on qualifications – Tanden, a policy expert has led the Center for American Progress for nearly a decade, and worked in both the Clinton and Obama White Houses.

Earlier –
‘Oh Come On’: Joe Manchin Insists His Opposition to First Woman of Color OMB Nominee ‘Is Not Personal’

“We are postponing the business meeting because members are asking for more time to consider the nominee,” an unnamed committee aide told Axios. “The president deserves to have a team in place that he wants, and we’re going to work with our members to figure out the best path forward.”

But many Democrats see Manchin’s opposition as nothing more than sexism, misogyny, and racism. He has voted for far less qualified candidates with far greater issues than Tanden, all of whom happened to be men, and mostly white men. Among them, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was not only credibly accused of sexual assault, but engaged a shocking on-camera attack promising revenge during his confirmation hearing.

“Other supporters have accused Tanden’s opponents of hypocrisy, noting Manchin and many Republican senators voted to confirm nominees of President Trump who also had posted caustic tweets,” Axios adds.

Manchin followed up his opposition to Tanden with a suggestion he might not support Biden’s nominee to head the Dept. of the Interior, a sitting U.S. Congresswoman who is Native American, Deb Haaland.

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IF IT LOOKS LIKE A DUCK AND WALKS LIKE A DUCK

‘Oh Come On’: Joe Manchin Insists His Opposition to First Woman of Color OMB Nominee ‘Is Not Personal’

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U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is responding to massive criticism of him over the past few days, culminating in allegations of sexism and racism, over his announcement he is opposed to President Joe Biden’s pick to head the Office of Management and Budget.

“Oh come on,” Manchin, who heads the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, told NBC News’ Garrett Haake when asked about his opposition to Neera Tanden, “it’s not personal at all. No, no.”

Manchin announced his opposition to Tanden on Friday, opening the door for three Republicans to almost immediately follow: Senators Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, and Rob Portman and subsequently declared their opposition.

Tanden is a woman of color. Born to Indian immigrants, she has been president of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress for nearly a decade. She also served in both the Clinton and Obama White Houses and as an advisor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Manchin and Republicans have been attacking her over her admittedly mean tweets, many of which she chose to delete in an apparent effort to show contrition. She’s also repeatedly apologized.

But Tanden isn’t the only woman Manchin opposes, nor the only woman of color.

Related: ‘Jim Crow Joe’ Manchin Accused of Working to ‘Derail’ Biden’s Agenda – Some Now Accuse Him of Racism and Misogyny

U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) is President Biden’s pick to be Secretary of the Interior. She would be the first Native American to run the $20+ billon agency, and the first Native American Cabinet Secretary.

Manchin declared he was unsure of her nomination on Monday.

That would be two of President Biden’s picks Manchin seemingly opposes, both women of color, and neither of grounds they are not qualified.

Manchin late last month also reportedly “sniped” at Vice President Kamala Harris, after she visited West Virginia to drum up support for the administration’s coronavirus relief package.

Many say they are starting to see a pattern with Manchin, a Democrat so conservative there are three Republicans to the left of him. That pattern involves giving Republican presidents and male nominees, especially white male nominees, great deference, as his voting history proves.

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SERIOUSLY?

Top Texas Elected Official’s 2021 Priorities: Pandemic, Power Grid, and Star Spangled Banner Protection Act

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Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Tuesday unveiled his top 31 priorities for the 2021 legislative session, a mix of newly urgent issues after last week’s winter storm, familiar topics stemming from the coronavirus pandemic and a fresh injection of conservative red meat into a session that has been relatively bland so far.

Patrick said in a statement that he is “confident these priorities address issues that are critical to Texans at this time” and that some of them changed in recent days due to the storm, which left millions of Texans without power. After his top priority — the must-pass budget — Patrick listed his priorities as reforming the state’s electrical grid operator, as well as “power grid stability.”

Patrick’s specific plans for such items remain unclear, however. Almost all of his priority bills have not been filed yet, and the list he released refers to the issues in general terms.

Reference

View the full list of Dan Patrick’s priorities here.

(555.8 KB)

The priorities echo much of the agenda that Gov. Greg Abbott laid out in his State of the State speech earlier this month, including his emergency items like expanding broadband access and punishing local governments that “defund the police.” Fourth on the list is a cause that Patrick himself prioritized recently — a “Star Spangled Banner Protection Act” that would require the national anthem to be played at all events that get public funding.

However, besides the fresh focus on the electrical grid, perhaps the most notable takeaway from Patrick’s agenda is how far it goes in pushing several hot-button social conservative issues. Patrick’s eighth and ninth priorities have to do with abortion — a “heartbeat bill” that would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, as well as an “abortion ban trigger” that would automatically ban the practice if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Abbott said he wanted to further restrict abortion in his State of the State speech but did not mention those two proposals specifically.

Abortion is not the only politically contentious topic on Patrick’s list. As his 29th priority, Patrick put “Fair Sports for Women & Girls,” an apparent reference to proposals that would ban transgender girls and women who attend public schools from playing on single-sex sports teams designated for girls and women. He also included three items related to gun rights: “Protect Second Amendment Businesses,” “Stop Corporate Gun Boycotts,” and “Second Amendment Protections for Travelers.” It was not immediately clear what specifically those three bills would entail.

Coming in at 10th is another proposal that was left unmentioned in Abbott’s speech despite popularity with the GOP base: banning taxpayer-funded lobbying. That is considered one of the big pieces of leftover business for conservatives after the 2019 session.

While the new state House speaker, Dade Phelan, has been a proponent of outlawing taxpayer-funded lobbying, it remains to be seen how receptive the lower chamber will be to the rest of Patrick’s agenda. The House, especially under previous Speaker Joe Straus, has a history of slowing — or stopping — at least some of Patrick’s most controversial ideas. Phelan has not released a similar list of priorities.

To be sure, though, Patrick’s list covers all five emergency items that Abbott designated in his State of the State speech, when the governor vowed to use this session to aid Texas’ recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Patrick said in a statement that he backs Abbott’s priorities “as well as other legislation to make sure the Texas economy continues to come back stronger than ever following the pandemic.”

Patrick’s priorities drew the swiftest pushback from abortion rights advocates. Dyana Limon-Mercado, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said Patrick was elevating the wrong issues, especially after the winter storm.

“Just when we think state leaders can’t go any lower, Dan Patrick throws out this list—nothing more than a political stunt and a weak attempt to save face with his base, while Texans still need essential health care and critical community support,” Limon-Mercado said in a statement.

For Patrick, the priority list marks something of an end to a relatively quiet start to the session for the typically outspoken lieutenant governor. He has increased his public profile in recent days, including by announcing his plan for the national anthem legislation after a report that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban decided to stop playing the song during home games this season.

Disclosure: Planned Parenthood has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2021/02/23/dan-patrick-2021-priorities/.

 

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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