Last June, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry no matter what state they live in. This ruling has generated a lot of emotions among the general public and those who have jobs within the political system, and has been the catalyst for events such as Kentucky clerk Kim Davis refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses last week due to the fact that it interfered with her Christian beliefs and values.
Davis, who was sent to jail last Thursday in contempt of court after the incident, was released earlier today into a crowd of supporters, including Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee. She was released under U.S. District Judge David Bunning’s condition that says, “Davis cannot interfere with her deputies issuing marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.” However, it remains unclear whether or not Davis will follow this order once she returns to work.
Upon the incident’s occurrence, Davis asked for special accommodations, asking that her name and title be non-present on all marriage licenses. I might understand Davis’ distress if it were an isolated incident, but it’s not. Same-sex couples will, from this point of the Supreme Court’s ruling on, be requesting marriage licenses because, well, it’s legal. That’s the idea and nature of progress, a concept well-known to the United States.
The main problem here is that she is not representing herself as an individual, she is representing Rowan County, which, like all other counties in the U.S., is included in the aforementioned ruling.
While the couples in Kentucky could have gone to a number of different clerks to get their marriage license as stated in an article from USA Today, my opinion is that they shouldn’t have to. And while I’m mentioning that article, I’d like to say that the only reason couples seem to be “forcing Kim Davis to violate her central religious belief about marriage” is because that is her job — she is the clerk. If you are an employee of the U.S. government, representing and enforcing their laws, and you happen to strongly disagree with the law, then you as an individual have the ability to find a more fitting position for you and your beliefs.
If your religious convictions keep you from doing your job, find a new one. Especially if you are working as a public figurehead or in a position, like Kim Davis’, that has any kind of stake or influence in an issue within a nation as progressive as ours.
If I were a vegetarian, I wouldn’t choose to work in a butcher shop because my personal convictions might prevent me from doing my job, therefore infringing on the rights of the shop’s patrons to have access to the meat available for purchase there. It’s simple, really. No one is forcing Davis to do that job, and as with any other job, if performance is poor and beyond counsel, then the employee responsible should be removed from the equation.
I recognize that Davis superseded her mother in taking over the clerical position, and I recognize that the position means a lot to her. However, the Supreme Court’s ruling and the milestone that it marks for our country means a lot to not only same-sex couples across the nation but also to those who are merely supporters of same-sex marriage. I’d also like to point out that Davis found God and identified with religion around four years ago, which is a short time compared to how long some same-sex couples have been committed to each other. Maybe that’s significant and maybe it isn’t, but if nothing else, it is food for thought.
Those of us who support the progress this nation has made in terms of marriage equality will find a way to leave Kim Davis and her non-progressive denial in the dust. I’m not slamming religious belief, as I have various beliefs of my own. I’m just saying that politics and religion don’t often mix and this is an example of that. I should also point out that I am an advocate for standing up for what you believe in, even if you are standing alone. With that idea, though, also comes the belief that in doing so, you shouldn’t have to stand in the way or infringe on the rights of anyone else to make your point.
So kudos to you, Davis, for staying true to your faith, but if that is the choice you’ve made, then let someone else take over your position who has the ability to do their job with the general public’s best interests in mind before their God’s best interests. Instead of generating all this hustle and bustle around the issue and even being sent to jail for contempt of law, why not just find another job?
Collegian Opinion Editor Haleigh McGill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @HaleighMcGill.