By Lauren Wachspress || Contributing Writer
County Clerk Kim Davis of Kentucky has been making headlines after defying federal orders and refusing to hand out marriage licenses to gay couples. Once the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in June, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear sent a letter telling all of Kentucky’s county clerks that they must issue licenses to gay couples. Davis refused to follow this order. Davis and a group of clerks had asked the governor to accommodate their religious convictions, but he refused, telling them to issue the licenses or resign. She was found in contempt of court, and U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered her to jail for five days. Four couples sued Davis, and she filed a counter-suit against Beshear claiming his order did not exempt religious clerks, which was a violation of religious freedom. After being held in contempt of court, Davis was allowed to return to work. Then it was discovered she had been altering marriage licenses. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a new motion because Davis was technically violating her testimony in court that clearly stated she does not have “the discretion to create a different kind of license that would not require [her] authorization for it to be issued” (http://bit.ly/1KDGr7z). She altered the licenses so that there was no mention of the county, along with other modifications, that have called the validity of these licenses into question. All of this was done in the name of faith.
The notion of religious freedom is a very complex issue. The religious tolerance argument obscures the essential principle of separation of church and state. Never mind that Davis herself is intolerant of other human beings and their civil rights as citizens of the U.S., she wants to claim she is the victim. Her lawyers are from the Liberty Counsel, a firm notorious for opposing gay rights. Davis, with support from the Liberty Counsel, has become a self-proclaimed hero for the religious right, appearing on numerous television networks to affirm her stance.
On ABC’s Good Morning America Tuesday morning, Davis claimed to have gay friends, but assured the public that she refused to issue licenses to them. This sounds like the classic I’m not racist because I have black friends excuse. Unfortunately, having gay friends cannot hide Davis’ ignorance and blatant bigotry. She again reaffirmed her religious principles driving her actions: “I can’t put my name on a license that doesn’t represent what God ordained marriage to be” (http://huff.to/1NJOv9a).
On Fox News, Davis explained that spending five days in jail to uphold the Lord’s word was worth it, and she also said she is prepared to return to jail. She told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that millions of Christians object to “this whole same-sex marriage issue” and that their rights are worth something. Clearly, Davis is a little confused about how our government works and whose rights are really being infringed upon. It is unclear what type of backwards logic is driving her, whether she thinks homosexuality is an active choice or if she thinks gay people just should not be married, but her religious delusions have no place in the issuing of Kentucky marriage licenses. What is so wrong about gay love that personally affects the life of Kim Davis and other religious fanatics? By claiming divine authority, Davis is evading the true questions of equality and humanity at issue here.
Senior Lauren Wachspress is a contributing writer. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.