Dear Kim Davis,
I want to let you know that, as a huge advocate for religious freedom I totally support your right not to marry someone forbidden by your deeply held personal convictions. I do so wholeheartedly and without reservation.
For society, the law, (or, God forbid, a renegade court of activist judges) to force you to marry someone of your own gender against your will and your sincere commitment to being true to your convictions is an unforgivable invasion of your personhood.
I cannot believe that you, as a heterosexual Christian in this country, could be subjected to a forced marriage to another woman against your will.
Oh . . . excuse me . . .
You say you are not being forced to marry someone against your will?
Ok . . . so then you are being forced to participate in a religious ceremony that violates your principles?
So . . . what you are saying is that you are being required to fulfill a legal obligation, essentially a clerical function, certifying that a contract between two individuals conforms to the laws of the State of Kentucky . . . right? And this clerical function is a part of the position you were elected to, and as an elected official you are sworn to uphold the laws and the Constitution.
Okay . . . now I get it.
So this isn’t really a free exercise issue at all, is it? It’s a violation of your . . .
of your . . .
of your . . .
OH CRAP! The light-bulb just came on!
You are in jail protesting the violation of YOUR right to impose YOUR religious beliefs on others by using your secular position as an officer of the State of Kentucky . . . a state forbidden by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (as incorporated on the states by the Fourteenth) from making laws based on a specific set of religious beliefs, and required by the Fourteenth Amendment to afford all persons within its jurisdiction due process and the equal protection of the law.
Now I get it!
Perhaps this is a different conversation then.
So the idea of two people of the same gender legally joining their lives together makes you uncomfortable, and there is an implication that such a relationship might involve . . .
Dare I say it . . .
And the religious principles you live by and the scriptures YOU understand to regulate such relationships forbid them.
Totally cool. Like I said, I fully support your freedom to exercise your religious beliefs, but this isn’t about your religious beliefs, it is about you using your secular position to impose those beliefs on others who have the right to their own religious beliefs.
This is the boundary line between the sacred and the secular. You have crossed that line, which is why you are sitting where you are right now.1
And, as it should be, you are the one who has all the power here, at least all the power you should have. You don’t have the power to regulate the civil (secular) status of relationships allowed by law because of your personal convictions. This does not mean that you need to personally approve of them.
This isn’t about your personal beliefs because your personal beliefs don’t figure in to your sworn elected duties.
The Supreme Court of the United States of America, under the authority vested in it by Article III of the Constitution has the final authority to determine how the Constitution is applied as a matter of law. The framers gave the court this authority, and they did so for a reason. Like it or not, that’s how it works in the United States of America.
I think this court made the right call here. I don’t necessarily agree with some of the court’s other recent decisions, but like I said . . . that is the power vested in the court by the framers.
It is the law.
The ruling in the matter of Obergefell V. Hodges is quite clear. It applies in Kentucky and Texas and Louisiana and Florida and Arkansas as much as it applies in Connecticut, California, Massachusetts and Maryland.
The majority opinion concludes,
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law.
The Constitution grants them that right.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.
It is so ordered.”
As a public official, you are so ordered. You can comply, or you can resign.
You have the right to exercise your religious freedom for yourself. You don’t have the right to impose it on others in the context of your secular duties.
Kim, you have your religious freedom. Nobody can take it away, nor is anybody really trying to do so. That freedom isn’t being taken away, but what the law says is that you can’t use your secular position to impose your personal beliefs on others.
As it should be.
It’s your move.
1 (Update: September 8, 2015 . . . US District Court Judge David Bunning has ordered Ms. Davis released from jail provided that she does not interfere with the issuance of marriage licenses by her deputies.)