Not at liberty to impose one's views
The controversy over the issuance of marriage licenses in Rowan County has less to do with one individual's religious freedom than with the free exercise of conscience by the population as a whole.
I find it odd that it has been couched as an individual being denied her religious liberty. Rather it seems a matter of an individual attempting to impose her religious views on the public.
This is precisely what the Founders of our secular republic rejected: any official state-sanctioned religion. That has been effectively ignored in recent years as candidates think they must loudly proclaim their piety or forgo any chance at election.
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During the 1960 presidential campaign, so much concern was expressed about John Kennedy's Catholicism that he responded that he believed in "an America which is officially neither Catholic, not Protestant, nor Jewish," but where all might worship according to the dictates of their conscience. He said that if a situation ever arose when his duties required him to either violate his conscience or his oath of office, he would resign.
Since that time, it seems we have come a long way. I fear the distance traveled has not been one of forward progress but rather has taken us backward.
Rowan's bad rap
Unfortunately, Rowan County is receiving international attention because its clerk refuses to issue marriage licenses.
Morehead is one of the few Kentucky cities to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance, and most of her public supporters are from other places. After living here 20 years, I am impressed by how different people get along quite well.
The clerk has been polite and helpful to me. I respect her, and would have more respect had she resigned after the Supreme Court decision. Instead, she uses public resources to advance a private agenda, breaking her oath, preventing us from doing business and violating our constitutional rights. Wealthy folks from out of state pay her attorneys to advance their cultural agenda.
Clerks everywhere distribute benefits according to rules, without consulting conscience — they issue driver's licenses to people they know to be untrustworthy, for instance.
Our clerk essentially demands that the state rewrite her job description or pretend we have no judicial branch of government.
She claims a Christian justification. But issuing marriage licenses is rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's. I hope she apologizes for placing her own interests over the people she swore to serve; my sense is that regardless of religious belief, they would forgive her.
People losing power
There are a lot of reasons to be worried about democracy in the country and state. Not many registered voters bothered to go to the polls last November, according to a recent Herald-Leader editorial.
Maybe this is because our votes don't count.
When Kentucky put the marriage issue on the ballot, the majority voted that marriage was a union between one man and one woman, thus banning same-sex marriage. Then a federal judge said the ban was unconstitutional. Then the issue of same-sex marriage was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court and the ban was again ruled unconstitutional, thus making it legal.
Yes, the county clerks in Kentucky swore to uphold the law. However, when they were elected into office, same-sex marriage was not legal here.
I would say people should worry about democracy in this state and country; voting may become a thing of the past. Presidents, governors, Congress, etc. will be elected through and by a Supreme Court system, making the American voting system obsolete.
Beshear bullies clerk
Gov. Steve Beshear should stop letting his personal beliefs interfere with upholding the law.
We know Beshear is against the religious liberty law of 2013 and vetoed it. However, it was passed, and KRS 446.350 is not just yet another Dred Scott opinion, but rather actual law on the books.
All must obey this law, including Beshear. Bullying people to resign from employment is the most restrictive means, the opposite of the "least restrictive means" required of Beshear by the law.
God said to love
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis' failure to obey the law should have her removed from office. Her church must not teach that she is to obey the law of the land and love everybody.
Being a Christian doesn't give her the right to deny others their right to live how the law says they can choose. Her denial of marriage licenses, not only to gays but to straight couples, violates the law.
I worked in Christian radio for more than 20 years and saw the hate pour from pastors' mouths over the airwaves. They were full of hatred, with no love shown towards gays. If you're going to be a Christian, then live it fully and not rip out certain pages of the Bible that you feel don't pertain to you.
Davis needs to reread the Ten Commandments until she finally gets it. Love thy neighbor as thyself — that one was proclaimed by God and not by the Supreme Court some time ago.
Religious liberty sham
So many conservatives are hailing Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis as a great hero for religious liberty. However, it's only because this involves gay people that there's any confusion about what is nothing more than dereliction of duty.
If your Jewish butcher refuses to sell you the hotdogs or shrimp you want, would that be a great blow for religious liberty? No more University of Kentucky tailgating parties or shrimp cocktail for you!
If a Catholic judge stopped granting divorces, would that be a great blow for religious liberty? Like the idea of being shackled forever with your ex-spouse so someone else can be smug?
If your Christian Scientist pharmacist refused to dispense your blood-pressure medicine or the antibiotics that will prevent pneumonia, would that be a great blow for religious liberty?
If your surgeon refused you a life-saving blood transfusion because he's a Jehovah's Witness, would your death be a great blow for religious liberty?
It just takes two minutes of thought to see through this sham.
OK, Kentucky, one more time.
A civil union that requires a government-issued permit to be legally recognized and affects your federal, state and local tax status and can only be dissolved by a judge in a court of law can only be defined as a function of the state and not of the church. Surely you can see that, even with your head in the sand.
A couple of questions do cross my mind, though: Why the Rowan County sheriff has not placed steel bracelets on the clerk's wrists for defying the rulings of federal courts? And why the pushback from the African-American religious community? Surely they can feel the pain of discrimination better than most of us ever could.
But I suppose discrimination in the name of a loving and caring God makes it OK. Unbelievable.