By now, everyone here is aware of the situation in Kentucky where county clerk Kim Davis is serving jail time for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Her emergency appeal to the United States Supreme Court was denied with no public statement from any Justice.
Many of us on the Right are viewing this in the wrong light and portraying this as a battle between religion and a secular Supreme Court decision. In a sense, this is true and was inevitable. The Obergfell decision opened a can of worms which could have been better and more definitively decided through the democratic process. That is what the case was really about. Erick Erickson is correct to point out the fact that Justice Kennedy injected his own moral beliefs into the decision and attempted to cloak it in constitutional language, a task at which he failed miserably.
But make no mistake, Kim Davis is not a baker or a florist or a member of the clergy. In all those instances, there are other bakers, florists, photographers and ministers. However, residents of a particular county cannot shop around for clerks to sign a marriage license. She is a publicly elected official sworn to uphold the law whether she likes the law or not and despite her reasons for not liking a law. When the Supreme Court decision was announced, this writer more or less predicted a scenario like this and that states had to react to the new reality whether they liked that reality or not. Thus far, only North Carolina and Utah have enacted legislation granting clerks a religious exemption to issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. Forty-eight other states failed to act although they had ample time to prepare for the eventuality.
Furthermore, Kim Davis has a right to her sincere and heart-felt religious beliefs. However, Kim Davis does not have a right to her job. Additionally, she ordered her deputy clerks not to issue the licenses despite the fact none of them had any objections to doing so. Her excuse is that her name is on the pre-printed form. That is an easy fix; if a deputy clerk under Kentucky law can issue a license, then their name should be affixed to that license, not the head clerk. For Davis to mandate that her deputies cannot issue these licenses is akin to Davis forcing her religious beliefs on others.
Mike Huckabee asks the question: “What’s next? Ministers?” No, Mr. Huckabee- Kim Davis is not a minister. She is an elected public official. How can we as conservatives criticize the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for not enforcing ICE detainers- which are a legal document- and then condone Kim Davis’ actions? Because it is gay marriage and/or religion that is involved? What if the people in San Francisco justified their actions in religious terms? Would we still support their refusal to enforce the law? In both cases, they are flouting the law whether they agree with that law or not and despite the reasoning.
There is a time-honored tradition in this country of violating unjust laws and the imposition of same sex marriage on states by judicial fiat is, in my opinion, an injustice imposed on the states. But, states have a duty to deal with it just as Utah and North Carolina did. Kim Davis’ action is not one of courageous sacrifice. She retains her job, her salary, her benefits. The courageous thing to do would have been to resign her position and become a greater moral voice in this battle. She was not jailed for her religious beliefs; she was jailed for refusing to do her job.
I fully understand the frustration of many who look around and see elected officials, which Erick Erickson chronicled, right on up to the President openly flouting the law. Count me among the frustrated. We talk about the rule of law, not of men, but what is Kim Davis’ actions but the rule of a single person?