I’m hesitant to add to the mountain of words being written and spoken about Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis, who now sits in a jail cell on contempt of court charges for her unwillingness to sign marriage licenses for same sex couples. According to her, doing so would be tantamount to her approval of the union, which, in turn, would violate her “sincerely held religious beliefs”.
Never mind that signing a marriage license for an otherwise lawful marriage is no more a statement of approval of something, than paying your monthly cable bill is approval of any channel you don’t actually watch. Why bother with facts when it comes to your sincerely held religious beliefs?
It’s what enabled the Hobby Lobby retail chain to refuse contraceptive coverage because they believe — incorrectly — that some oral contraceptives induce abortions. This is what the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has wrought: the right to look away from actual facts or evidence because of beliefs.
But even more interesting than that, though, is Mrs. Davis’s résumé. She has worked in this office for nearly three decades and only sought the elected office in the November, 2014 polls. Her job is to uphold the law in carrying out her elected duties. And that’s one thing I haven’t seen much written about: laws change, sometimes through local venues, sometimes statewide, and sometimes on a federal level. Sometimes the changes are the result of legislation and sometimes he changes are the result of courts interpreting existing laws.
Obergefell v Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling which held that same sex couples have the same right to marriage as opposite sex couples, was on the docket for the 2014-2015 court season. And it was announced that it would be part of the docket in August, 2014. (Oral arguments were in March, 2015.) The very fact that it was on the docket meant that a change to marriage law at the time of last November’s election — while by no means a certainty — was certainly a possibility.
If Mrs. Davis is that steadfast in her beliefs about same sex marriage (or as we now should call it, “marriage”), why did she even seek the elected office? If she feels that strongly about it, shouldn’t the possibility of having to sign licenses for same sex couples have at least given her pause about running?