The Lexington Herald-Leader

Yo, journalists: Kentucky has solved its gay-marriage dilemma and Kim Davis is happy

Yo, journalists: Kentucky has solved its gay-marriage dilemma and Kim Davis is happy

You remember Kim Davis, right? 

Yes, we're still talking about the Rowan County clerk who insisted that her Apostolic Christian beliefs would not allow her to sign -- as required by Kentucky law -- marriage licenses for same-sex couples. If you are drawing a blank, click here and surf around.

At the height of early Kim Davis mania -- when her brief time behind bars was dominating headlines and even evening news shows -- I had an interesting email dialogue with a mainstream news reporter. I was arguing, here at GetReligion, that reporters were ignoring two crucial facts in this story.

Fact 1: From the beginning, Davis and her legal team were open to a compromise that would allow other local and state officials to sign marriage licenses. This would mean removing the slot on the license form requiring the signature of the county clerk.

Fact 2. From the beginning, there were Democrats, as well as Republicans, in the state legislature who backed this compromise -- which would recognize the religious liberty rights of clerks, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

The problem was my use of the positive word "compromise." I was working under what some considered the false impression that a political course of action represented "compromise" if it (a) granted each side their primary goal (same-sex marriage on one side, freedom of religious conscience on the other) and (b) was backed by a broad, centrist coalition of Democrats and Republicans.

My reporter friend's logic was simple: Elite journalists were not going to consider this a "compromise" if Davis was happy with it. Now, what's the implication of that statement?

This brings me to a recent Reuters piece that may, perhaps, wrap up the long, tortured story of Davis and her efforts in support of the free exercise of religious convictions (see the First Amendment). This development has not received much national attention, but I think it's crucial.

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Dear Lexington editors: If Linus doesn't say you know what, then what is he allowed to say?

Dear Lexington editors: If Linus doesn't say you know what, then what is he allowed to say?

OK, close your eyes. You are watching television during the season before Christmas. To be specific, you are watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

So Charlie Brown -- I can't imagine calling him either "Charlie" or "Brown," under Associated Press style -- has purchased the sad little Christmas tree and all the other children are mocking him. Even Snoopy is laughing. Then they all exit, stage right.

The lovable loser shouts: "Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?"

At that point, Linus van Pelt steps forward and answers in the affirmative. Then he walks to the center of the stage and, alone in a spotlight, says ...

Says what? 

Millions and millions of Americans know what Linus says in his pivotal speech in the classic television special. The question, in a "Christmas wars" update from The Lexington Herald-Leader, is what does Linus say in the controversial production of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" that is being staged at W.R. Castle Elementary School in Johnson County, Kentucky? Here is the top of this hollow story:

When students perform the play “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at W.R. Castle Elementary School in Johnson County on Thursday, the scene in which the character Linus quotes from the Bible is set to be deleted.

Johnson County Schools Superintendent Thomas Salyer told the Herald-Leader Tuesday that Christmas programs across the district were being reviewed for possible modifications of religious references. That news had led people to protest outside school district offices for a second day. ...

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Washington Post gets crucial Kim Davis compromises into new front-lines report

Washington Post gets crucial Kim Davis compromises into new front-lines report

The latest from Rowan County, Kentucky? Sure, why not.

But before we look at some of the coverage of clerk Kim Davis and her first day back on the job, let's review the primary journalistic point that your GetReligionistas have been making, over and over, about this media circus.

Most of the national coverage, has portrayed this dispute as a clash between two national armies -- with the Religious Right on one side and gay-rights supporters on the other.

We have argued that this is too simplistic and that, to anticipate where the story is going, reporters need to focus on the actual laws in Kentucky and the ground-level efforts to realign them with the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 Obergefell decision to back gay marriage. At the very least, there appear to be four camps involved in this sad circus. 

(1) Cultural conservatives whose primary goal is to reject same-sex marriage.

(2) A coalition of state political leaders -- Democrats and Republicans -- seeking to comply with the Supreme Court ruling and recognize the rights of gay couples who seek marriage licenses. However, these officials and activists also want, in a way consistent with past legal efforts to offer "work around" accomodations for officials caught in conflict-of-interest binds, to recognize the religious-liberty rights of traditional Christians, Jews, Muslims and others who cannot endorse same-sex marriage.

(3) Activists of various kinds who want to defend religious liberty, but who believe Davis has hurt their cause, in the long run, by going to jail rather than either (a) resigning or (b) allowing others to distribute marriage licenses in her name until the state legislature acts to amend state laws in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. (See this earlier Bobby Ross Jr., post.)

(4) Activists on the secular and religious left whose primary goal is to force public officials whose duties touch same-same marriage to either resign or endorse, with their actions, the Obergefell decision.

Every now and then, The Washington Post team has included in its coverage details that point toward this complex four-level drama at the state level -- such as the fact that Davis herself supports compromises that would allow gay marriages to proceed (such as the legislature approving the removal of the clerk's name from the license or allowing couples to seek licenses through other government sources).

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