Over the past few weeks, a woman who once held no social importance ascended to national prominence, and not for something that should be deemed virtuous. Believe it or not, celebritizing individuals is seldom uncommon in American culture, whether it be an overnight sensation such as Kim Kardashian or a braggart businessman turned rebellious presidential candidate like Donald Trump. The point being, our society often creates icons out of people lacking in the “contribution to mankind” department.
A Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis, has refused to give out marriage licenses to same sex couples. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled on marriage laws in June making it legal for couples of the same sex to finally, and freely, join hands in matrimony. Since this change, which some view as religious imposition, and most view as a long awaited liberation from incomprehensible social discrimination, she has refused to grant these licenses to same sex couples under the claim that it goes against her Christian beliefs.
Whether it is agreed upon or not, Davis has the right to believe what she wants. She is entitled to these convictions freely — as we all are — under the protection of the first amendment. I firmly support the fact that everyone in this country is allowed to — without restraint — have faith in whatever he or she conceives to be moral or just.
With all of this being said, it is imperative, however, that religious ideology remains isolated from public policy. The country we live in today should not have an affiliation with a specific religion. It should stand on the exact opposite, which is precisely why the first amendment is so important. The lines become blurred when people such as Davis, who is an elected official, claim religious persecution. The media, to no surprise, proceeds to present headlines such as “The War on Christianity.” When are viewers going to learn how harmful these nonsensical delusions are? Davis’ job is to serve the county of Rowan, Kentucky by issuing marriage licenses. Just because her job description changed in June, when the Supreme Court ruled that discrimination against same sex marriage is unconstitutional, does not mean she is being maltreated. She took an oath and that oath is to uphold the laws of the state and federal governments of this country.
The New York Times reports that Judge David L. Bunning, of the United States District Court, jailed Davis on the charge of contempt of court. Davis then, willingly, denied proposals for her deputies to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples, which would have released her from jail. “The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order,” Bunning said, according to The New York Times. “If you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that’s what potentially causes problems.”
The hypocrisy is almost unfathomable, considering Davis proclaims that she is a believer in traditional marriage but has divorced three times before wedding her fourth husband, Joe Davis. Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has given his support to Davis and has even said, “I think that people need to wake up and realize that the people of faith in this country are genuinely under attack. This is not about giving certain people their rights — it’s about denying others theirs.”
Huckabee makes the claim that Christians are being stripped of their rights when that is not the case at all. No one is preventing Davis, or anyone else for that matter, from believing in traditional marriage. However, her duty as county clerk requires her to fulfill her job, which, as of June, consists of issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. Davis has two options here: do what is asked of her and issue licenses regardless of whoever is requesting, or she can quit her job. There is no ethical circumstance that should allow her to hold the position as county clerk, and remain obdurate in her stance about not giving licenses to whomever she considers intolerable. That decision is not for her to decide, and no one person is greater than the law. Davis’ claim that she is being denied religious freedom when nothing is pressuring her to change her personal views on marriage is simply not an acceptable excuse.
Kim Davis is no victim of religious persecution, but she is guilty of religious imposition.
As world-renowned linguist Noam Chomsky once said, “If you’re in favor of freedom of speech, that means you’re in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise.”