Friday, September 04, 2015
Kim Davis goes to jail for refusing to violate her religious beliefs
In June, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell vs Hodges concerning same sex marriage. In the June 26th 5-4 ruling, they held that the 14th Amendment protected same sex couples right to marry. There are two problems with that ruling. the first is that Justices Kagan and Ginsberg refused to recuse themselves. In participating in hearing the case and lending to the ruling they both committed an ethics violation. Both Justices are proponents of same sex marriage and actively officiated at such marriages, thus they should have recused themselves.
Gay activists were successful in forming their message and aggressive in their attacks on the religious right. Here, the religious right failed miserably to form and control the debate. The result is that in Kentucky, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis sits in jail on a Contempt of Court charge for refusing to issue same sex marriage licenses. Today, the LBGT (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender) community is all agog with joy, that a Born-Again Christian woman sits in jail because she refused to violate her religious belief, that marriage is between one man and one woman.
The plaintiff's attorney Laura Landenwich rejected Davis's attorney Roger Gannman's comparing his client's acceptance of imprisonment to Martin Luther King's actions to forward the civil right movement. He said "everyone should lament and mourn the fact that her freedom has been taken away for what she believes." Landenwich retorted, "Ms. Davis is in an unfortunate situation of her own creation. She is not a martyr today. She is not above the law."
Yes, a martyr was created today, when Davis is jailed for refusing to have her First Amendment rights violated. Judge Bunning offered Davis a get out of jail card, if she agreed to allow her staff to issue the same sex marriage licenses, which she rejected. Such an offer is disingenuous. It would be ultimately Davis's signature as County Clerk on the document, even though a staffer prepared the paperwork. It would be as if Kim Davis gave tacit approval to a marriage which is in direct violation of her religious belief. I liken it to forcing a Muslim worker forced to served pulled pork sandwiches in the government cafeteria.
Speaking from the bench Bunning said that it would be setting up a "slippery slope" if an individual's ideas would supersede the court's authority. He said, "Her good faith belief is simply not a viable defense. I myself have genuinely held religious beliefs...but I took an oath." Somehow, Bunning got the wrong end of the stick. The First Amendment supersedes an oath, local and state laws. It prohibits interfering "with the free expression thereof" in the Davis case and Bunning ignored that part of the Constitution as did the US Supreme Court. Oaths do mean things as Bunning averred, but they are restricted to the confines of the Constitution.
To those of us, who are people of faith, be we Muslim, Jewish, Christian or any other religion, God's law is supreme and above man's law. Man's laws are based upon the foundation that God placed down for man to stand and build upon. But, it's not cool to place our religion in the public arena. It's suppose to be personal and private, we hear from the politically correct crowd. If that is true, then how did religions grow and prosper, if we did not talk, live and express openly our religious beliefs? Our Founding Fathers understood this concept. They wrote the First Amendment to prevent the silencing of religious speech, expression and practice from the public arena.
The Religious Right needs to rephrase the debate and take control of the fight and fast. They need to demand that government not define the word and concept of marriage. They must demand that marriage remains the sole property of religious institutions. Within the legal system and government there exists "Civil Unions". Every local government that issues so called marriage licenses, actually issue civil union licenses, which become marriages when performed or recognized by religious institutions.
What the LBGT community has done, was to take a non-argument of same sex unions and make it an assault on religious freedom. There are many religious organizations that welcome and recognize same sex couple unions as marriages and they are free to seek their recognition. What SCOTUS and Judge Bunning have done is to define our religion by defining marriage. The "slippery slope"Bunning as afraid of is actually an avalanche obliterating religious freedom. The religious right needs to shout from the mountain tops, that same sex couples already have the rights and benefits of heterosexual couples when they apply for their civil union licenses and have the ceremony performed by an institution amiable to their lifestyle and don't interfere with the religious liberty accorded to all Americans.
To win the war, we must demand that all legal licensing of domestic unions be renamed Civil Unions, as well as, all government benefits and services, all documentations revise the wording from marriage to Civil Union. We also, must demand that marriage is the sole purview of religious institutions with discretion to recognize and perform the rite of marriage. Once we do that, we can revisit the battles we lost and take back the fight to win the war.