By now, you’ve probably heard all about Kim Davis. And if you’re even remotely right leaning, Libertarian, and Republican, i’m sure you’ve done your due diligence in making sure that you’re up to date on the “up and up,” and now believe that Kim Davis is somehow comparable to Rosa Parks, or Martin Luther King Jr. It’s really unfortunate that genuine martyrs of the legal, social, political, and economic turmoil that African American’s have had to go through must now be inclusive of the likes of Kim Davis. Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks didn’t disparage the rights of others on the notion that in not doing so their own beliefs were destroyed – they fought for their own equality without the justification for the removal of the rights of others. Davis, on the other hand, abused her role as an elected official to not only provide people with a right so deemed by the United States Supreme Court, she dissuaded others from doing so as well. That’s not heroism, that’s authoritarianism.
As for the legal nuances, here’s the deal – Davis wasn’t sent to jail for defending her religious beliefs, she was sent to jail for not following a court order. Conservatives, Republicans, etc., would do well to remember that contempt of court is a punishable offense – defending your religious beliefs is not. But, leave it to the Republicans and the Right Wing to make inaccurate social comparisons and stoop to the deepest trenches of cultural appropriation by comparing Davis to Parks.
More importantly, Davis was in fact in full breach of her duties as an elected official. It isn’t as if she’s a judge who maintains the flexibility of judgement on issues that are discretionary duties, like marriage. No, Davis was elected to be a court clerk, and was therefore bound by federal directives, and later a court order, to issue marriage licenses. Davis, furthermore, filed several court motions to have herself exempt from issuing marriage licenses yet still hold the job. Those appeals have made it to the Supreme Court, and the court has denied those appeals. Why a Republican would support someone that refuses to do their job, yet thinks that they should maintain their job post, is antithetical to the notions of personal responsibility. Personal responsibility would mean that she steps down from the post she was elected to serve in light of the changes that led her to take a stance of noncompliance due to religious objections. Personal responsibility means upholding the law, even if you don’t like it – not breaking it simply because we disagree with the law on religious terms. That’s both religious and political hypocrisy. But, I find no irony in this, as it is what I have come to expect from the right wing ideology. That ideology is a witches brew of religious zealotry infused with gunpowder and soaked in the blood of snakes. Freedom and liberty, argued from the perspective of a liberal, is seen as nothing more than tyrannical hearsay, religious heresy, and believed to be perpetuated from sheep that bare the face of Stalin.
The rightness of Kim Davis has nothing to do with the validity and truth of her argument, and instead has everything to do with the insipid nature of her political beliefs, and her absolute willingness to enforce her religious perspective on that of other people which are nonetheless reinforced by members of the Republican party, like Mike Huckabee.
It’s clear that religious folks believe that their religious liberties are being confined, or outright taken away, and it isn’t enough for liberals to object to this belief. It would be worthwhile for liberals, religious and otherwise, to address these conservative claims. It would be pertinent to ask the questions, with empirical searches and genuine inquiry as to whether or not religious liberty has been reduced, and if so, why? In the event that it has, is it justified? How is it justified? But conservatives would do well to realize that all rights and privileges are subject to regulation and limits, whether it is religion, guns, or speech. Conservatives would also do well to realize that objection is one thing, and action is another. You have a religious right to express religious objections, but that does not mean that you have the right to act upon those beliefs toward others, and especially not entire groups.
A friend of mine over at Nerd Union wrote a piece The Truth About the Kim Davis Debacle, that sums things up pretty well, not least of which the position that conservatives have put themselves in. And I would happen to agree that the framing of the political debate was shaped in large part by the reaction of the Republican party. While I am in full support of the equal use of the term marriage, I do think that the republican failure to achieve their political goals is in large part due to the ineffectiveness of their response. The other reason is because liberals took the long road to victory, and understood that any successful campaign would rein in the minds of the people from a ground-up approach. It’s one thing for conservatives to pass legislation from a state by state, and even federal level – but that’s just viewed as a retaliatory response from a conservative who’s just been offended on religious grounds.
Conservatives and Christians may feel persecuted, and their feelings should be validated and acknowledged. That being said, persecution is a charged word with a long history of far worse things than incarcerating someone for not following a court order. Persecution is not what is happening to Kim Davis, or even necessarily Christians. Freedom of religion, maybe ,but hardly to Christians, in the United States. Persecution is defined as “
In any case, those in favor of Kim Davis’ actions have made several claims against Obama, and have brought up a Texas Judge that refused to perform weddings. So here’s a response to these claims:
- Obama, being the President of the United States, has a very narrow legal privilege to choose not to defend, and even in some cases choose not to enforce pieces of legislation. The reasoning behind a non-enforcement and non-defense approach must be grounded in a constitutional argument, and must be supported by a legal notion that an argument in court would win.
- It is not therefore hypocritical to support Obama’s non-defense, and later non-enforcement of the Defense of Marriage Act, because his position prevailed in court. Moreover, Obama isn’t the first to do this – Kennedy did this with a bill professing to be “separate but equal,” Lincoln did it, Carter did it, Jackson, Jefferson, Clinton, Bush I, and Bush II did it.
- The comparison to the Judge in Texas is not a comparable example. Marriage is a discretionary duty for a judge. More importantly, this judge began performing marriages once gay marriage was ruled constitutional. The judge also sent couples to other judges that would perform marriages. Davis did none of this, and the issuance of marriage licenses was a primary function of her job. Davis actively obstructed the issuance of marriage licenses, told her staff to do the same, and disobeyed a court order to do her job.
Persecution of any kind cannot be resolved by the persecution of others, and if any real headway is going to be made concerning the freedoms and liberties of others, and groups, then individuals need to be willing to talk about their concerns in a way that is not charged with words like persecution, and tyranny. More importantly, people need to be willing to listen, s well as have the capacity to consider that one person’s right, does not mean the persecution and objection to another person’s right. As for Kim Davis – she should have stepped down, or resigned from her post.