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Kim Davis

Right-Wing Militia Pledges to Protect Kim Davis

Right-Wing Militia Pledges to Protect Kim Davis

Stewart Rhodes

Members of the Oath Keepers, a paramilitary group, say they'll try to keep Davis from being arrested again.

trudestress

It's well-known that antigay Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis has many supporters among the far right, but now it turns out that they include an armed paramilitary group, the Oath Keepers, which has pledged to protect her from being arrested again.

"We have had boots on the ground [in Rowan County, Ky.] since last week and will continue to have a presence," says a statement on the Oath Keepers' website. "Stewart Rhodes [Oath Keepers' founder, pictured above] reached out personally to Davis's legal counsel to offer protection to Kim, to ensure that she will not be illegally detained again." (There has apparently been no public comment on the Oath Keepers' offer from Davis's legal team at the right-wing Liberty Counsel.)

The Oath Keepers group, described on its site as "a non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders, who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to 'defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,'" has engaged in numerous controversial activities in protest of what they consider government overreach or supposedly to provide security in times of unrest.

As Right Wing Watch notes, armed members of Oath Keepers aided Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy last year as he attempted to prevent the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to collect grazing fees he had owed for many years. They also showed up in Ferguson, Mo., carrying semiautomatic rifles, ostensibly to guard businesses after a grand jury decided not to indict the white police officer who fatally shot unarmed black man Michael Brown. St. Louis County police said they violated the law by acting as security guards without obtaining a license.

The Oath Keepers posted a phone call online this week in which Rhodes and other members discussed plans to aid Davis. They said, as did the online statement, that the action was not motivated by her views on marriage equality, but that they believe U.S. District Judge David Bunning illegally exceeded his powers when he found her in contempt of court and had her jailed for failing to comply with his order to issue marriage licenses to all eligible couples in Rowan County, regardless of gender. She had ceased issuing any licenses shortly after the Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality, as she says her Christian beliefs prevent her from facilitating same-sex marriages.

Bunning ordered Davis's release Tuesday, five days after she was jailed, as the deputy clerks in her office were issuing licenses without discrimination, therefore meeting the intent of his order. As a condition of her release, he said she must not interfere with the issuance of marriage licenses. It remains to be seen what she will do when she returns to work Monday, as her attorneys have said she will not do anything that violates her religious beliefs.

On the call, the Oath Keepers members, including former Jackson County, Ky., sheriff Danny Peyman, said Rowan County sheriff Jack Carter and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear failed to protect Davis from arrest, so the Oath Keepers activists are taking that upon themselves. Before Davis's release, they had planned to picket Bunning's home.

Peyman, reports the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch blog, "sounded a threatening note in Bunning's direction: 'I think the judge still needs to know that he's not out of the woods just because they let her out. He's still going to be held accountable.'"

"The Oath Keepers are hardly the only far-right extremists who have shown up to participate in the circus that has developed outside the Rowan County Courthouse in the past week," the SPLC blog adds. "Renowned white supremacist Michael Peroutka showed up over the weekend and offered a speech in support of Davis at a rally outside the jail where she was being held. So did Matt Heimbach, leader of the white-nationalist Traditionalist Youth Network."

Listen to the Oath Keepers' conversation below.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.