With the amount of time I have been spending arguing for Kim Davis‘ release and return to office, one might think that I agree with her position on same sex marriage. I absolutely do not. I consider there to be nothing immoral about two people of the same sex entering into a marriage contract. So why does it matter to me so much and why am I spending so much time defending Davis? There are two answers. The first answer is that I want to uphold the constitution. The second answer is that I want to protect the rights of all people, not just same sex couples. This includes the right to one’s own beliefs and the right to inaction.
Kim Davis has a religious objection to same sex marriages. The courts admit this. Any facilitation of such marriage would violate her religious views. While I may disagree with her views, they are her own and neither I nor anyone else can force her to change her mind. Unfortunately that is exactly what others are attempting to do when they demand that she lose her job or stay in jail.
But her right to act according to her beliefs, so long as it does not violate any other constitutional provision is guaranteed by the first amendment. To punish her for refusing to perform a task which she never agreed to do in the first place is out of line with the protections she has under the constitution.
Herein lies my concern with the current actions being taken against Davis. The courts are punishing her for not accepting same sex marriage, even though the first amendment, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII, and the Kentucky Bill of Rights section 5 all suggest that she has constitutional protections against being forced to do with this one component of her job. But we cannot simply ignore the constitution because we want people to accept something we hold to be an acceptable way of life. To do so would destroy the rule of law in this country and implement a moral tyranny akin to a theocracy: a situation which the founders wanted to prevent in the first place.
Proper Course of Action
I understand that Davis did break the law. But it was the proper course of action. The reason being is that such a law forced Davis to come into conflict between two constitutional mandates: protection of religion (her own in this case) and the 14th amendment (equal treatment under the law). By refusing to issue any marriage licenses, she acted to eliminate the conflict between the two co-equal mandates, in the least restrictive way possible. Any other action would have forced a violation of at least one constitutional provision.