Sunday, September 6, 2015

Kim Davis and Her Religious Liberties Are Not Under Attack by the Government

I've been spending too much time tweeting about Kim Davis recently. She's the county clerk from Rowan County, KY, who just won the election that placed her in this position. She was not happy with the recent SCOTUS decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. She quit processing marriage licenses for anyone and will not allow her deputies to complete that job functions. She argues that her signature is on the form, which means that she is giving her explicit endorsement of every marriage that gets happens in Rowan County.

Several couples (same-sex AND opposite-sex) were not happy that they were being told to go elsewhere to process their marriage licenses. One couple in particular was turned away three times. Davis was told by three separate federal courts that she needed to do her job. SCOTUS unanimously told her to do her job. She has refused and was ultimately held in contempt of court and placed in jail.

Keep in mind that Davis is receiving free legal representation. She is also being bolstered financially by outside supporters. Plus she made an oath to do her job less than a year ago. That is why she is in jail. The judge decided that nothing short of jail would make an impression on Davis.

Keep in mind that five of Rowan County's six deputy clerks are willing to handle marriage license applications. Davis was offered that as a compromise alternative to jail. She refused. That is also why she is in jail.

I had some thoughts about "religious liberty" this morning. Why is it that religious liberty arguments are rarely used against divorcees or adulterers, or serial spouses, or those of other faiths, or those of no faith? "Religious liberty" arguments are generally used to justify discrimination about LGBT people -- with the occasional exception of women who use birth control.

Nobody is ever concerned about the religious liberty of gay people. Over 40 years ago, leaders from the Metropolitan Community Church sought marriage rights on the basis of religious liberty. They were laughed out of court and nobody came to their defense.

I was married in my church nearly 20 years ago. My church fully recognized and affirmed my marriage and treated it as spiritually honored. And yet the state of Iowa refused to recognize or honor our collective religious liberty for over a decade.

Heck, the very notion of LGBT people having legitimate religious liberties is routinely scoffed at.

Here's the thing. Kim Davis has been a deputy clerk for years and years and years. She -- like most of us -- was fully aware that the various DOMA laws and the various constitutional amendments restricting marriage from same-sex couples were falling down like dominos. She knew that the SCOTUS was hearing the Obergefell v. Hodges case and that they were likely going to rule in favor of America's gay families -- based on precedents like those earlier court cases and the 2014 United States v. Windsor SCOTUS decision.

My point is that Kim Davis wasn't drafted into her position of county clerk of Rowan County. She voluntarily ran for a position where she would be required -- at least potentially -- to process marriage licenses for same-sex couples. If she didn't want to risk completing this function, she could have sought other employment. She could have not ran for election.

She was not -- as has been asserted to me -- running for a job that is accountable to God. After all, you do not need to be ordained in order to become a county clerk. You need to be able to receive and process state and county documents and you need to know how to supervise employees.

The taxpayers of Rowan County did not elect her to her current position in order for Kim Davis to tell them to go to another county for them to complete basic government transactions that they should be able to complete within their home county. Kim Davis really needs to do her job, delegate her job duties, or quit.

But stop telling me that her religious liberties are being trampled over by an unjust government. Kim Davis IS the government. And she's trying to force the citizens of her community to abide by her personal belief system. That is not religious liberty.

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