Kim Davis: An Abomination
Why we should not defend or make excuses for Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis.
Carter County Detention
I don’t know Kim Davis, and I’ve only glimpsed the green hills of Kentucky once, from the window of a charter bus in July 1994. That summer, I was 17, enroute from Iowa to Atlanta, Georgia, for a Lutheran youth gathering with my church youth group. Kim Davis was 29, just divorced from her first husband, about to give birth to twins out of wedlock. We could not have imagined each other.
Now, twenty-one years later, I am a woman preparing to marry my fiancé, who is also a woman.
Now, Kim Davis is a county clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, and the national media is abuzz over her recent refusal to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples like my fiancé and me. An Apostolic Pentecostal as of four years ago, supported by high-profile evangelicals like GOP candidates Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, Davis has become the face of the fight for religious freedom.
I just want to look Kim Davis in the eye. No. I want to grip her by the shoulders and turn her to face my family here in Denver, Colorado: my eight-year-old Ethiopian daughter and her two moms, a high school English teacher and a psychologist. I want to sit Kim Davis down in a chair and make her witness our normal family life: the rush to school and work, the strain to reach home at the day’s end, homework at the kitchen table, dinner preparations and then dinner together, a board game, bedtime reading of Harry Potter, teeth brushing, lights out, sleep. On Saturdays, we make waffles before we drive Mitike to her soccer game in a nearby park. On Sundays, we take the dog on a long family hike. Now Kim, I’d ask her, when I’d decided she’d seen enough, what exactly about my family does your god hate?
Already, I know her answers.
Sex. Kim Davis and her supporters don’t mind that Meredith and I make Mitike eat her broccoli, or that we help her with her multiplication tables, or that we attend her school play performance together (though our closeness in the audience makes them uncomfortable). What they hate is that we—two women—have sex. Good Puritan Americans who trust the myopic myth of Eve and Adam, they cry, “Unnatural! Against the way they were made!” But we are quite adept at using the natural way we were made for our pleasure. Two women are lovely mirrors, O’Keefean red canna lilies. My body was made to love her body; like any couple in love, our physical life expresses our emotional life. It’s true our love is not mentioned in any of the official stories written by men to preserve the dominance of men. Ask Lillith. This is the book, as Adrienne Rich wrote, in which our names do not appear.
And yet here we are.
Of course, Kim Davis and her supporters also hate that Meredith and I can’t procreate. It’s a biblical mandate, according to some conservative religious traditions, that married couples produce progeny. No matter that we’re raising one special child carefully, fulfilling a promise I made to her birth family seven years ago. No matter that millions of other children across the world will never reach adulthood because they lack basic needs. No matter that most heterosexual marriages (Mrs. Davis’s current one included) did not form to produce children but to profess love. Anyway, some recent research indicates that two women will be able to create a baby together in the next decade, no sperm required.
But what Kim Davis and her supporters actually hate most is that Meredith and I are abominations. They think their Bible says so. I’ve read a Bible, too. A religion major in college, still several years from realizing I was gay, I wanted to understand why conservative Christians hated my gay and lesbian friends, and so I decided to research and write about the mere seven verses in that thick book that mention homosexuality. I found that the gang of men in Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of violent rape. I found that Jesus said nothing, ever, about homosexuality. I found that Paul, who wrote or said the only three New Testament statements, also used “nature” to argue women and men should wear their hair at certain lengths. I learned that the leaders of ancient Judaism and nascent Christianity were desperate to continue hereditary lines and preserve patriarchal control.
I noted the copyright dates on those seven verses. In 50 CE, the apostle Paul could not imagine Hillary Clinton, not to mention two women who marry each other and make a life together.
Again, I’d ask: Kim Davis, what exactly does your god hate about my family? I imagine asking her, the two of us standing face to my face in my kitchen. I could argue. I could name her hypocrisy; I could list her three divorces. I could craft well-researched biblical arguments. I could prove how normal my family is, how we are flawed and tired and hopeful and afraid and in love, just like any other family.
But if I could talk to Kim Davis, I wouldn’t convince her. She’d shake her head in pity that Mitike is growing up in a house of sin, and I’d only leave angry, or sad, or hurt. We speak different languages, Kim Davis and I. We’ve read different Bibles. We know different Jewish men named Jesus.
Better to trust Supreme Court decisions, take a breath, and stop thinking about Kim Davis at all. While I do still believe in God, I do not believe in Kim Davis. Her hatred of my family and me is what is unnatural. Its womb produces no progeny that will help heal a hurting world. In the northeast corner of Kentucky, in Rowan County, where hemp plants grow tall and strange in the sun, it is the hatred of Kim Davis that is the abomination.
Sarah Hahn Brooks (sarahjhbrooks.com) is a lesbian essayist and novelist who lives in Denver, CO, where she teaches high school English and parents a beautiful little girl with her partner Meredith. Brooks has published work in a variety of publications, including Room Magazine, Sinister Wisdom, Iris Brown Lit Mag, and Adoptive Families Magazine. Her novella, The Beginning of Us, came out in January 2014 from Riptide. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Naropa University.