As a holder of a degrees in Public Administration, a gay man and a Reconciling United Methodist, I find the actions of Kentucky County Clerk and her refusal to grant same sex couples marriage licenses, to be illegal, offensive and theologically dubious. Her actions and subsequent arrest plainly show that she has become a martyr for the cause of homophobia; advancing a fundamentalism that is somehow only acceptable when a Christian does it, yet is unacceptable when someone else does. However, let me be clear: this is not a piece that will be attacking her ad hominem. I believe that no matter how wrong-headed Ms. Davis is, she is entitled to basic dignity and a freedom from name calling and bullying.
It does not take a legal scholar, lawyer or any learned degree to realize that there is something wrong with Ms. Davis’ legal interpretation and her actions. Most glaringly is her insistence that she can use God’s law to supersede the Constitution. As a believer myself, I believe that God intends for us to follow the laws of our native lands, and to challenge those that are incorrect. In this light, I can understand Ms. Davis’s actions without accepting them (I will go into this further later). However, the Constitution is not just the law of the land and the defining article of American law; it is the very document her employment rests on. Ms. Davis, like every county clerk in this country, takes an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Not God’s law. By openly denying the constitutional right to marriage equality enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment by Obergefel v. Hodges Ms. Davis violates the terms she signed to gain employment. We are a nation that has struggled with the expansion of rights, but have always, over time, moved to expand rights. From abolition, women’s suffrage, and civil rights, all have been movements to expand our laws, not to contract them. If Ms. Davis truly feels that she cannot comply with the law, then she has the obligation legally and ethically to resign her post.
As a Reconciling Methodist, a Methodist that believes in confronting racism, homophobia, sexism and discrimination while trumpeting compassion and equality, the argument put forth my Ms. Davis and her supporters is not theologically consistent with God’s love and redemption. It is my firm belief that God loves all people regardless of who they are and what they have done, and that it is our human mission on earth to help one another in any way we can and to show kindness, grace, love and respect for all. Because of this, the citing of my own religion in the name of hate is a particularly strong wound. However, I do not wish her harm. I wish for her to change her heart on this issue and to get out of the way of equality, but I do not wish her harm. And we shouldn’t either. Ms. Davis is entitled to the fundamental human right of being wrong. However, Ms. Davis should also do some soul searching and hopefully see the error of her ways and right the wrongs she has committed.
Despite the arguments laid out above, perhaps most important is to understand that Ms. Davis is not acting as a singular person, but as a woman ensconced in a movement who has become their martyr and battle cry. This can be seen by whom as tended her support. For starters, Mike Huckabee, presidential candidate (at the moment) has said she has a better understanding of the Constitution than any other elected official and that because the legislative branch has not decided to allow same sex marriage, then she is in the right. Rick Santorum (alos running for president at the moment) espouses a similar tactic. Both men have a somewhat quizzical understanding of civics, wherein Huckabee clings desperately to the blissful ignorance of federalism while Santorum believes the legistislative branch through sheer will can change the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court. Ms. Davis is being propped up legally by lawyers who are wrongly suggesting that the case revolves around the Kentucky governor’s authority. Trained at Liberty University, they are nothing but happy warriors content to use Ms. Davis’ beliefs to their political advantage.
The fundamentalism that these people espouse is somehow only acceptable coming from Evangelical Christianity. If a Quaker refused a gun permit for no reason other than religious beliefs, people would be rightfully livid. If a Muslim man worked for the DMV and refused a woman a driver’s license because in his view, women shouldn’t drive, outrage would ensue. It is ironic to the point of hysterical that these people that so desperately want to use their religion as a bulwark against secular laws they dislike, are the most aggressive and outspoken critics of other religious groups that do the same thing. While many groups are undoubtably more violent, the difference in tactics does not mean that there is a fundamental disagreement between the camps on the substance. As much as Evangelicals fear the spread of Shariah law, they support the advancement of Christian Law; as much as they hate the fear propagated by ISIS, Al Qaeda and others, they spread their own vitriolic campaign. Our problem isn’t with Ms. Davis, but those around her. This country cannot move forward and embrace full equality until we look firmly at ourselves and make the necessary changes to advance equality.