Kim Davis, the Kentucky County Clerk, has scratched her place into America’s folk lore. Claiming the tenants of her religion, Ms Davis has refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. She claims to be acting under God’s law. She ran for election knowing that same sex marriage was a national possibility. Today she claims God’s law is above US law. Hmmm.
The Federal District Court judge who found Ms Davis in contempt and remanded her to jail when she refused, had no other alternative. Davis has said her religious beliefs are firm and accordingly she will not issue licenses to same sex couples. The judge said he would revisit his detention order this week faces an awkward situation.
If he were now to allow Ms Davis to be released, she could resume he job and order all those working in the Clerk’s office to refuse same sex couples marriage licenses. If the judge asks Ms Davis her intent and she confirms that she will not issue licenses and will not allow her subordinates to issue them too, the judge will have again no other option but to return Ms Davis to jail.
Hate in and of itself is not a crime. Nor is the act of feeling superior and “better” than someone else. Problems arise when people act upon these negative and destructive attitudes.
Law involves civil matters and when the Supreme Court found that same sex marriage was a Constitutional right for same sex couples, Davis was free to continue to hold her supremacist views but she was not free to follow them on her job.
All the politicians’ ranting and raving about the need for a religious objection exemption is worrisome. It confirms how fundamentally low quality the thinking of so many prominent political figures really are. It also runs the risk that some States may try to put such laws on the books only to be later struck down.
At the root of the Kim Davis issue is whether someone claiming membership in a “Christian” religion can hold the general views of Christianity while at the same time cherry picking the theology and picking certain specific dogmas and presenting them as the full message of their Christian views. Same sex marriage in no way hurts Ms Davis or denies her the room to celebrate her religion. In her private life, Ms Davis is free to hold her anti gay views. In her public life, she is required to treat all citizens the same.
The unstated problem here is that Davis’ view of God’s Law is unique to her specific born again church. How can she prove that her interpretation of God’s Law is different from Methodist or Catholic or Jewish or Hindu or Muslim takes on a supreme spirit? More to the point, how can we be a land of laws when there are so many different religions which could claim a different God interpretation on all sorts of social issues?
The judge will do everyone a favor when he revisits his decision on jail, if Ms Davis continues to refuse to fulfill her country clerk duties, he sends her back indefinitely or until her term expires. A clear line needs to be drawn.