Friday, September 4, 2015

No GoFundMe for Kim Davis

Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk charged with contempt over her refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses in violation of the law, has been all over the news this week. Perhaps you may find it a little surprising that the story didn't wind up on Augoeides right away, but that was very deliberate on my part.

One of the big problems with trying to expunge Poor Oppressed Christianity from government offices is that there are a whole lot of them out there. And the last few times the government has made a move against these assholes, they've put up GoFundMe pages and raised tons of money from their brethren. Part of the reason I held off on the Kim Davis story was to keep from adding to the viral frenzy that might help her raise money.

I'm happy to say, though, that Salon has an article up today covering the work that crowdfunding platforms have been doing towards shutting down fundraisers for folks like Davis. Not only that, the work they're doing seems to be getting some results.

The expectation that part of the Davis strategy included playing the victim card and letting the donations roll in has been a real and present aspect of the case. But crowdfunding has come under deeper scrutiny lately. Earlier this year, the FTC began taking a closer look at platforms like Kickstarter. This summer, Baltimore homeowner Julie Baker’s campaign to fight back against an alleged homophobic neighbor via a “relentlessly gay” display raised $43,500 in a few days — and serious questions about whether the whole thing was a hoax.

But perhaps most relevant to Davis and her acolytes, back in the spring GoFundMe canceled a fundraising campaign for Aaron and Melissa Klein — the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, who’d recently been fined $135,000 for refusing to accommodate a wedding cake request for a gay couple. In a statement, GoFundMe explained, “After careful review by our team, we have found the ‘Support Sweet Cakes By Melissa’ campaign to be in violation of our Terms and Conditions. The money raised thus far will still be made available for withdrawal…. The subjects of the ‘Support Sweet Cakes By Melissa’ campaign have been formally charged by local authorities and found to be in violation of Oregon state law concerning discriminatory acts. Accordingly, the campaign has been disabled.”

So while Davis may still be able to raise money from Poor Oppressed Christians who support her, she won't be able to do it nearly as easily. Online platforms like GoFundMe can reach much larger audiences than, say, church funding drives. The sooner that they can take control of situations like these, the better.

After all, it's a heck of a lot easier to be a flat-out bigot when there's a real possibility in the back of your mind that it might help you get rich quick.

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