A Kentucky clerk who defied orders to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples was released from jail Tuesday, but her lawyer says she will continue to resist until officials find a way to accommodate her religious opposition to gay unions…
“Just keep on pressing,” Davis said. “Don’t let down. Because He is here.”…
“She told the court Thursday that she can’t allow licenses to go out under her name and her authority that authorize a marriage that collides with her conscience and religious conviction, and Kim is not changed on that position,” [her attorney Mat] Staver said.
Ms. Davis walked out of the detention center about 2:35 p.m., flanked by Mr. Huckabee, Mr. Staver and her husband, Joe, and apparently dressed in the same clothes she wore during a court appearance last Thursday. Reporters asked repeatedly if she would abide by Judge Bunning’s order, and not interfere with the processing of licenses by her office, but Ms. Davis remained silent…
The rally Tuesday had been scheduled before it was known whether Ms. Davis would be released. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, also a Republican presidential contender, made an appearance, but it was Mr. Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor, who grabbed the political spotlight.
When Senator Cruz exited the jail a throng of journalists beckoned him toward their microphones, but an aide to Mr. Huckabee blocked the path of Mr. Cruz, who appeared incredulous…
Mr. Cruz stood off to the side, keeping an unusually low profile during the event.
Is the priority ensuring that Rowan County’s gay couples can get the marriage licenses they are entitled to, without hassle? Or is it breaking a Kentucky woman asking for an accommodation?
If the goal is the former—to ensure the issuing of licenses—there are any number of solutions. Because though Ms. Davis makes clear that she believes same-sex marriage a violation God’s law, she’s not asking the state of Kentucky to share this view or even to deny couples their licenses. What she objects to is that the marriage licenses come with her name “affixed to the certificate.” She asks the state to find a way around this…
There is a view in polite society that if the issue is simply forced, opposition to same-sex marriage will wither away. Then again, polite society may not be that familiar with people who have a fear of God and are willing to suffer for it. This is not to say that Ms. Davis has it right about the law—federal, state or God’s. But a better appreciation for what is driving this woman might lead us to the kind of reasonable accommodations American families make every year at their own Thanksgiving dinner tables.
There is absolutely no requirement whatsoever that the state must revamp its licensing system to accommodate her personal beliefs. To do so could lead to the inefficient domino effect, with every person passing the hot potato while trampling on applicants’ civil rights.
In an amicus brief, Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers had the audacity to ask the District Court to “temper its response” to Davis and not judge her too harshly until the state laws and mindset had a chance to catch up to the Supreme Court’s mandate. This request would be laughable if it weren’t so reminiscent of the southern states’ arguments in Brown v. Board of Education that led to a mandate of school desegregation with “all deliberate speed.”
Time revealed that the vague mandate enabled states to take their sweet time enforcing the laws. In fact de facto segregation in our nation’s schools persists to this day because the court allowed states to legally lollygag. This case is no different.
We maybe one nation under God, but we are a democracy under the Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) September 8, 2015
A federal judge has sent a Kentucky county clerk to jail for refusing to issue wedding licenses to gay couples despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in late June upholding the legality of same-sex marriage. The clerk insists that gay marriage violates her Christian beliefs.
But just 26% of Likely U.S. Voters think an elected official should be able to a ignore a federal court ruling that he or she disagrees with for religious reasons. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 66% think the official should carry out the law as the federal court has interpreted it.
As Davis’ mugshot flew across the Internet, it became clear that the gay rights movement must confront the idea that Christianity is under siege, said Kenneth Upton, senior counsel for Lambda Legal, a law firm specializing in LGBT issues.
“This is what the other side wants,” Upton said, pointing to an image of Davis in handcuffs. “This is a biblical story, to go to jail for your faith. We don’t want to make her a martyr to the people who are like her, who want to paint themselves as victims.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, representing couples she turned away, asked that she be fined rather than imprisoned, in part to avoid “a false persecution story,” said Dan Canon, one of the attorneys. But Bunning ordered her to jail anyway, reasoning that she would be unmoved by monetary penalties.
The proper manner to change the law, in this instance, is to work for the election of a president who will appoint Supreme Court justices with a different view and for the election of senators who will confirm such justices. Or to propose and pass a constitutional amendment. Davis may be impatient with this system, but it is the one we have. Personally assuming the role in Rowan County, Ky., of a Supreme Court majority is not an option. The available alternatives are to implement the law (as public servants across red America have overwhelmingly done) or to resign in protest (as some have done as well)…
Whatever your view of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s ruling on marriage, granting a wedding license is not in the same category as participating in a legal system that supported chattel slavery. It is, rather, participation in a legal system supporting liberal notions of individual rights. Davis believes that one of those rights is misapplied and misused. That is not the moral or legal equivalent of turning over Dred Scott to the slave catchers.
The Davis case is important, but mainly as a warning. Over the next few years, some religious institutions will be subject to legal challenges that are encouraged by Obergefell. This will not amount to religious persecution, but it will raise serious questions about the nature of religious pluralism. Some religious people will properly contend for their rights and interests.
But it is worth remembering: Legal arguments are not won by elevating bad cases.
This case raises several questions, beginning with this one: If Ms. Davis was a judge supervising a divorce proceeding, does she believe a court entering a divorce decree would also conflict with her duties? Or is gay marriage rather than, say, heterosexual divorce, the only issue she’s willing to go to the mat for when it comes to fidelity to “God’s moral law”? (Ms. Davis might want to re-read Matthew 19:9, where Jesus says, “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”)…
One can easily see the problem with the Davis-Huckabee line of reasoning. Assume that during a Huckabee administration liberals decided Bible verses about welcoming the stranger and alien in your midst were the basis to defend “sanctuary cities” and, therefore, refused to abide by federal immigration laws. When told they needed to comply or face legal consequences, those breaking the law claimed religious liberties protection – and declared that penalizing them for their lawlessness qualified as the “criminalization of Christianity.” Mr. Huckabee would rightly view that argument as absurd. One wouldn’t be criminalizing Christianity; one would be criminalizing those who don’t follow the law.
As for Huckabee’s invocation of Abraham Lincoln and Dred Scott as a justification for what Davis did, Governor Huckabee is simply wrong. Lincoln didn’t call for people to ignore or “disregard” the decision. Quite the opposite, in fact. Lincoln called on the Supreme Court to overturn it and the public to express its differences with it…
I believe, too, that the Christian view of human sexuality isn’t capricious or arbitrary; it is based on the creation order and human nature. Yet some evangelical Christians have proved rather adept at helping the cause of those who want to portray their faith as graceless, a blunt instrument in the culture war instead of a field hospital, quicker to judge others than attending to those who are struggling, wounded and broken.
The double standard on display is palpable. I don’t recall Keegen or any of the other self-righteous, newfound devotees of the rule of law calling for the resignation of Kentucky’s attorney general when he refused to defend his state’s marriage law — or any of the other state attorneys general who did the same, from California’s Jerry Brown to Pennsylvania’s Kathleen Kane, and several others, including perhaps most notoriously Oregon’s Ellen Rosenblum, who was caught actively colluding with plaintiffs to ensure judicial invalidation of the Oregon marriage law she disliked.
“But Davis was refusing to comply with a decision of the Supreme Court,” it will be argued. So, too, did all those illustrious attorneys general. At the time, all of them refused to do their duty and defend their state’s man-woman marriage laws, even though the binding precedent of the Supreme Court at that time, a 1972 case called Baker v. Nelson, was that such laws were constitutionally valid…
The Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, both the federal law and Kentucky’s version of it, required that Ms. Davis’s religious objection be accommodated as a matter of law. The federal court’s refusal to respect those laws is where the real lawlessness lies in this case. And of course, that lawlessness is quite apart from the not insignificant question of whether the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision is itself lawless…
The Constitution requires that all officials, both federal and state, take an oath to “support this Constitution,” and the Constitution itself provides that “this Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof . . . shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” Neither the oath clause nor the supremacy clause requires fealty to an erroneous decision of the Supreme Court that is contrary to the Constitution itself.
Yes, Kim Davis is a lawbreaker, for reasons of conscience. That in itself is no dishonor.
But Davis is a particular kind of lawbreaker — one who is using her local authority to try to block federal, judicial rulings. And those decisions are specifically designed to recognize the rights of a historically despised minority group…
The federal courts in the 1950s and 1960s were newly asserting that a despised out-group had basic rights. That’s exactly what our Supreme Court is doing today, regarding gay men and lesbians…
The key to nonviolent civil disobedience is the willingness to step forward honestly and accept all the consequences, legal and otherwise, for one’s stand.
Kim Davis and her supporters should do so. And one of the consequences is that future generations will view her as exactly the same kind of person [George] Wallace was.
When politicians support Davis in defying the U.S. Supreme Court, they are making it clear why they should never be elected to any office, let alone the Presidency of the United States where they would take the oath to “support and defend the Constitution” since they are emphatically telling America that they wouldn’t support and defend it. They have announced that if you sincerely disagree with the Constitution, feel free to ignore it. And not just ignore it, make sure to use your position so that others are barred from following it.
I’m a proponent of peaceful civil disobedience in support of the Constitution. When the government isn’t doing what the Constitution promises—civil rights for all people, backing military veterans, helping the disenfranchised—then people should gather peacefully and let their voices be heard. Martin Luther King, Jr., Susan B. Anthony, Harvey Milk and many more who fought to bring the country in line with the spirit of inclusiveness expressed in our Constitution are such heroes because they battled to extend rights, not curtail them. However, Davis and her followers are not supporting the constitutional principles of the country, they are actually arguing against the most important ideals that are the foundation of the country: to not establish a state religion by letting government actions be determined by one religion…
Though she tries to fashion herself as a modern-day civil rights leader (her attorney has compared her to Dr. King), she’s no Rosa Parks. Instead, she’s the bus driver maintaining the status quo of injustice while forcing all the passengers to go where she takes them, not where they want to go. This country offers many options to those who are not satisfied with our laws. She could petition her legislators, she could become an activist, she could organize protests. She could even quit her job rather than compromise her spiritual principles. Quitting would have been more in keeping with martyrdom because by definition it requires sacrifice with no hope for personal reward. But there’s no celebrity in that.
Davis’ case will probably do the cause of religious liberty more harm than good.
First, there is a crucial distinction between a government official and a Christian wedding vendor who doesn’t want to participate in a wedding ceremony that violates her faith. One is backed by the state’s monopoly on force and can actually prevent people from obtaining licenses to which they are otherwise entitled. The other is part of a competitive marketplace, where in an overwhelming majority of cases, both the couple seeking a wedding vendor and the vendor seeking to act according to her faith can both get what they want.
Second, the country’s traditional understanding of religious liberty is being contested. A not insignificant number of opinion leaders now think of religious liberty as the freedom to have certain beliefs and act upon them in a place of worship, not necessarily to act upon them in the public square. For many, sexual identity is now the highest and most personal form of conscience, not faith.
As I’ve argued before, defending religious liberty in this environment is going to require a level of discernment and an ability to engage with people who might not have much experience with faith or find it very important. Among other things, this means being able to highlight the nuances that differentiate following one’s faith in the public square from discrimination, and making clear that religious liberty isn’t just a backdoor way of fighting lost political battles over same-sex marriage.
Davis doesn’t pass either of those tests.
But this time of relative peace may be at an end. Ever since Justice Kennedy began to establish a new federal religion, most concisely articulated in his infamous “sweet-mystery-of-life” passage in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life”), America’s Christians have seen their space in the public square shrink, with dissent re-labeled as discrimination and orthodox religious faith slandered as bigotry. Yet it’s critical for the social-justice warriors to understand that victory over the faithful in political and even cultural clashes will not cause them to yield. The alternative to accommodation isn’t coercion but rather conflict.
Last year — while writing in support of Religious Freedom Restoration Acts — I noted: : “Religious liberty exists as a core civilizational value not just because pluralist societies profit from it, but because the human heart demands it. If history teaches anything, it teaches that the religious impulse — the sense of eternity set in the hearts of men (to paraphrase Solomon) — is nothing if not powerful.” Or to put things more bluntly, Justice Kennedy can purport to change the Constitution, but he can’t transform Christian conviction. Unless his social-justice church grows more tolerant, the Kim Davis case is a harbinger of more conflict to come. We Protestants are simply returning to our roots.