Stand Up for Religious Beliefs and Get Thrown in Jail… But What Law Was Broken?
There has been much said and written about Rowan County (Kentucky) Clerk Kim Davis. Citing her Christian beliefs, Davis refused to issue marriage licenses with her name on them to same-sex couples. A judge took issue with this action and threw her in jail. This was a clear attack on religious freedoms, but it goes much deeper than that, and before we rush to judge whether Davis is right or wrong, we should be asking, “What law is she actually breaking?”
People have had plenty of opinions on the actions of Kim Davis. Even the GOP presidential candidates have gotten into the mix. Carly Fiorina said that Davis should do her job or resign. Others have supported Davis and claimed that religious exceptions should be made. Even on my Facebook page, people have expressed varying opinions. One woman wrote, “This is wrong on so many levels. Truly our freedom of religion is now under attack.”
A man followed by writing, “If your job and your religion are incompatible choose one. She is breaking the law. There are legal avenues for protest and this is not one of them. She is a government employee and must abide the law.”
Here’s my take on the situation. First of all, the fact that this woman sits in jail for refusing to do her job based on her religious beliefs should have EVERYONE terrified. This country was founded on the notion of religious freedom. Tyranny (religious or otherwise) is one of the reasons we broke away as colonies and formed our own country. And yet, Kim Davis sits in jail for standing up for her religious beliefs, and there is barely a murmur about it.
People… wake up! A man was run out of his job (CEO of Mozilla, the company that makes the Firefox browser) simply because he donated to a pro-marriage organization. Business owners are getting fined and threatened, because of their Christian beliefs. And now, a woman has been thrown in jail. Where is the outrage?
But let’s dig deeper, because many people out there seem to be missing some key points as to what’s going on. First of all, the reason she is refusing to do her job is irrelevant. She could cite religious beliefs or she could say that she no longer believes that the job should be performed on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays. She could say that she has decided to watch Real Housewives of Whatever instead of doing her job. In doesn’t matter. There is no government entity (courts or otherwise) that can order an American to do a job (outside of military service). You cannot be forced to do a job under penalty of prison. Period! This isn’t the middle ages. There is no law on the books that says a county clerk must perform x, y, and z functions or else be thrown in jail.
A person holding a job in the private sector is accountable to his or her boss. If the person does not perform the job, the boss can fire that person. But the person is certainly not going to get thrown in jail. The same applies in the public sector.
As an elected official, Davis is accountable to the voters of her county… not some judge. If she sat at home and drank all day and never came to work, would she be thrown in jail? No! She would face discipline by the voters in the form of whatever actions are set up in Kentucky law and the laws of Rowan County. Whether it is a recall election or some kind of impeachment, elected officials are accountable to the people, and if the people don’t like what she is doing, then they are the boss and can take action.
The point is that Davis could cite religious beliefs or a desire to sit at home as a reason for not doing her job. Neither breaks a law, and neither deserves a trip to jail.
Now, let’s look at this from another angle. Forget the fact that there is no law which forces Davis to do her job, but instead, let’s look at this from the recent Supreme Court ruling. The Supreme Court said that the 14th Amendment applies to same-sex couples (which it doesn’t), and they declared that state laws defining marriage as between one man and one woman are unconstitutional. (In clear violation of the 10th Amendment). However, that’s where the Court’s power stops. The Court does NOT make law. That is a legislative function. This is basic civics, folks.
GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee got it right in a recent speech to supporters.
Huckabee: “Kim is asking the perfect question: ‘Under what law am I authorized to issue homosexual couples a marriage license?’ That simple question is giving many in Congress a civics lesson that they never got in grade school.
The Supreme Court cannot and did not make a law. They only made a ruling on a law. Congress makes the laws. Because Congress has made no law allowing for same-sex marriage, Kim does not have the constitutional authority to issue a marriage license to homosexual couples.”
As Bryan Fischer points out, “The people of Kentucky, according to the prescribed method outlined in its state constitution, have defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman, period. Kentuckians enacted their marriage amendment in 2004 with an overwhelming 75% of the vote.”
Here’s how the Kentucky constitution reads:
Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Kentucky. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.
Thus, in Kentucky, according to the rule of law, marriage licenses can only permissibly be extended to couples consisting of one man and one woman. A “marriage” between two people of the same sex is “not valid or recognized.”
Thus Kim Davis would actually be breaking the law and violating the constitution of the state of Kentucky by issuing same-sex licenses.
The Supreme Court does not make laws. As it currently stands, Kentucky law is written as is, and in order for same-sex couples to marry, there has to be a new law. Until that time, Kim Davis is actually FOLLOWING the law, because marriage between same-sex couples does not exist in Kentucky.
It’s way past time for Americans to wake up and realize that our constitutional rights are under attack. We have the Supreme Court addressing the marriage issue when marriage is not addressed at all in the Constitution. We have Christians being fired, fined, threatened, and now imprisoned for their religious beliefs. And we have political leaders who are doing nothing about it. This is the America we live in! Do you recognize it?
Update at 12:25 pm CDT — The judge behind all of this has now said that Kim Davis should be released:
So… what changed? Is this just politically driven to avoid more attention? Why the change of heart? As you can read, he’s still telling her how to do her job. Isn’t that the role of the people?