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Erick Erickson / Sep. 11, 2015

Kim Davis Is Complicated

Kim Davis is the clerk of Rowan County, Ky. After Anthony Kennedy and four other justices of the United States Supreme Court decided that they know better than the more than 50 percent of Americans who either oppose gay marriage or think the states should have decided things, Davis decided to stop issuing marriage licenses in Rowan County. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, now running for governor of Kentucky, had refused to represent Kentucky in federal court in the gay marriage case. He needed to consolidate the political left to his side. Defending Kentucky’s constitutional provision in support of real marriage would have cost him political support. So he sat on his hands.

Kim Davis is the clerk of Rowan County, Ky. After Anthony Kennedy and four other justices of the United States Supreme Court decided that they know better than the more than 50 percent of Americans who either oppose gay marriage or think the states should have decided things, Davis decided to stop issuing marriage licenses in Rowan County.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, now running for governor of Kentucky, had refused to represent Kentucky in federal court in the gay marriage case. He needed to consolidate the political left to his side. Defending Kentucky’s constitutional provision in support of real marriage would have cost him political support. So he sat on his hands.

It was left to Davis, a county clerk, to stand up for the rule of law. Once Kennedy decided happiness trumps democracy, Davis refused all marriage licenses. To avoid being accused of discrimination, Davis would not issue licenses to anyone, heterosexual or homosexual, and denied other clerks in her office the right to do so because Davis’ name would be on the licenses.

Davis had been married multiple times, but prior to her current marriage, she converted to Christianity. In an age of cultural Christianity, many on the left assume being born a Christian is just a cultural thing. In reality, no one is born a Christian, but rather we are born again into Christianity. Because Davis is now a Christian and takes her faith seriously, she does not want to undermine an institution she believes God created, and in a way, she herself had undermined it prior to asking Jesus for forgiveness.

But the issue is more complicated than many Christians would acknowledge. Davis took an oath to uphold the Constitution of Kentucky and to faithfully execute the laws of Kentucky. When Davis was sworn in, the law required that she issue marriage licenses to heterosexual couples. After the Supreme Court’s heavy-handed rejection of democracy, Davis herself engaged in a heavy-handed rejection of democracy. She, with no authority, essentially rewrote her constitutional job description to include not giving marriage licenses to anyone.

Had Davis just not issued licenses to gay couples, she could have said that when she took her oath the law pertained to heterosexual marriage, and Kennedy and his merry band of culture warriors had no power to change Kentucky’s Constitution. Under our system of law, she would have been wrong, but she would not have engaged in a wholesale rewriting of her position.

On the opposite side are those who think Davis should be denied the right to hold office because of her Christian beliefs. The governor of Kentucky could have convened the legislature to deal with the issue. Instead, he preferred to watch Davis and other Christians squirm. The state could have provided a means for Davis to keep her job without sacrificing her faith.

In fact, as the country becomes more and more secular, the left thinks people of faith must give up their faith to serve government. Never mind that all Americans should be able to serve in government. The state should be able to accommodate the religious beliefs of its citizens as opposed to forcing citizens to give up their beliefs or violate them in order to serve their fellow citizens through government.

For a while now, the political left has treated the First Amendment’s “freedom of religion” clause to be a freedom from religion clause. They have treated the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on religious tests for office to be a prohibition on the religious to hold office. In the prevailing hypothetical of the day of whether we should be OK with a Muslim at the DMV refusing to give a woman a driver’s license, we should be answering yes, so long as there are others there who can and will give the driver’s license.

Davis and Christians should not expect that she can engage in civil disobedience without punishment. But we should all roll our eyes at the absurdity of the state refusing to accommodate her to the point of throwing her in jail. The nation has lost its mind.

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