Wrong – Jordon Lee ’16, Junior Politics/Opinions Editor
Kim Davis was publicly elected as a county clerk in Kentucky to fulfill many duties, including issuing marriage licenses. The Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) that it is the fundamental right for same-sex couples to be married under the Fourteenth Amendment, and Davis refused to follow this law and did not serve marriage licenses to same-sex couples due to her Christian principles. Davis refused to do her duties as county clerk and defiantly disobeyed the law. If she does not want to do her job as she was publicly elected to do, then she needs to either start complying with the law or resign.
The actions of Davis denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the Supreme Court ruling is similar to when white business owners continued to refuse services to African-Americans after the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the Supreme Court case of Katzenbach v. McClung (1964), which occurred after the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and forbid racial discrimination in restaurants. This case is similar to Davis refusing to serve marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015). The fact that discrimination, whether it is based on race or sexual orientation, is prohibited by the highest court in the country, but citizens, including publicly elected officials, continue to ignore the law is impermissible.
Davis was publicly elected county clerk to uphold the duties and responsibilities of the position. One of her responsibilities is to issue marriage licenses and another responsibility as both a county clerk and a citizen is to uphold the law. The law of the land is that it is permissible for all gay marriages to be recognized by the country. Davis, as the publicly elected county clerk, did not believe in this law because of her religious principles and she consequently refused to serve these licenses. As a county clerk, she was publicly elected to do her job in accordance with the laws of the state and the country. Separation between church and state is more than just a phrase, but is a principle that applies at all levels of government. When citizens refuse to obey the law, they weaken the integrity and structure of law itself.
Right – Brennan Kayes ‘18, Contributing Writer
In the last couple of months, Kim Davis’s highly controversial actions of refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples in Kentucky has only proven to ignite more debate and disagreement over an issue that has been greatly disputed throughout American history. The issue that Davis’s situation has raised debate about is the basic right of religious liberty and the role that religion plays in American law. The argument in this case was primarily between gay rights activists who believe Davis should be held in contempt for not issuing same sex marriage licenses after the nationwide legalization, and religious liberty activists who argue that Davis being held in jail is the “criminalization of Christianity.”
The main question comes down to whether or not Davis should have been prosecuted for her refusal to issue gay marriage licenses because of her personal religious beliefs. The argument made against Davis is that she violated a federal court order and should therefore be held in contempt. However, how is someone supposed to support and uphold a court ruling that would cause him or her to neglect his or her own personal beliefs and conscience? This issue deals with the impact of religious liberty in the lives of government employees and Davis was thrown in jail without bail for staying true to her religious ideals. Davis did willingly choose to defy a federal court order, but she was elected by 75% of the Kentucky population to uphold the constitution of the state, which at the time was before the federal ruling on gay marriage. In the future, there needs to be accommodations in the county offices for people like Davis to work with straight couples only and there should be other clerks there to issue licenses to gay couples. Religious liberty is constantly debated and disputed because of its relevance in various political and social issues, but it must be heavily protected.