Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Hey Kim Davis, "religious liberty" isn't the freedom to use a governmental office to impose religion

Increasingly embattled Rowan County Clerk, Kim Davis, put out a public statement that sought to explain why she continues to refuse issuing marriage certificates to same-sex marriage, despite the Supreme Court basically refusing to hear her petition to continue to not fulfill her job as a County Clerk, because of her religion.

Here's here statement [along with my assessment of her claim].
"I have worked in the Rowan County Clerk's office for 27 years as a Deputy Clerk and was honored to be elected as the Clerk in November 2014, and took office in January 2015. [Okay...] I love my job and the people of Rowan County. [Okay... Apparently her definition of "loving the people of Rowan County" includes not issuing some of those people marriage certificates because of her personal religious beliefs.] I have never lived any place other than Rowan County. [Irrelevant point to the capacity of someone fulfilling their duties.] Some people have said I should resign, but I have done my job well. [Not doing your job and ignoring a court decision about you not doing your job is not what I would call doing your job well.] This year we are on track to generate a surplus for the county of $1.5 million. [Irrelevant. But consider how much more money you could generate for the county if you issued same-sex marriage certificates!]
In addition to my desire to serve the people of Rowan County, I owe my life to Jesus Christ who loves me and gave His life for me. [Irrelevant. Your job is not to serve Jesus Christ.] Following the death of my godly mother-in-law over four years ago, I went to church to fulfill her dying wish. [Irrelevant. The death of your mother-in-law over four years ago should not affect your capacity to do your job now.] There I heard a message of grace and forgiveness and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. [Irrelevant. The "message of grace and forgiveness" should not affect your capacity to do your job.] I am not perfect. [Irrelevant.] No one is. [Irrelevant.]  But I am forgiven and I love my Lord and must be obedient to Him and to the Word of God. [Irrelevant. Your being forgiven by your deity should not affect your capacity to do your job.]
I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage. [Irrelevant. The job of county clerk could well change to include things that previously weren't part of the job.] To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God's definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. [Irrelevant. If you personally have a problem with fulfilling the new duties of your job, then you have a choice of seeking to delegate that duty to someone else who doesn't have a problem of fulfilling the requirements of the law, or you can choose to resign your job, now that it contains duties that you would not wish to fulfil if you were to choose whether to run for this office now.] It is not a light issue for me. [Irrelevant. The "heaviness" of whether a county clerk is required by law to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples is not yours to question beyond that of whether you wish to keep your job and do your duty or quit your job and keep your conscience.] It is a Heaven or Hell decision.[Irrelevant. Your perception of outcomes in your afterlife are not included as a metric for fulfilling the duties of your job.] For me it is a decision of obedience. [Irrelevant. If you cannot fulfill the duties of your position, then your obedience to your deity should not trump your duty to the law.] I have no animosity toward anyone and harbor no ill will. [Irrelevant. The issuance of marriage licenses requires neither animus toward anyone or harboring good or ill will toward anyone.] To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue.[Irrelevant. Questioning the basis of why the government issues marriage certificates is not the point of your job; your job is to issue marriage certificates.] It is about marriage and God's Word. [Irrelevant. Your job is not about determining how your deity will wish to enforce his will upon others; your job is to fulfill the laws of men.]  It is a matter of religious liberty, which is protected under the First Amendment, the Kentucky Constitution, and in the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act. [Irrelevant. Religious observance is allowed only to the extent that it does not diminish the personal freedoms and religious liberties of others. This is why religious human sacrifice is not covered by religious liberty, the state constitution, or the various religious freedom restoration acts.Our history is filled with accommodations for people's religious freedom and conscience. [Irrelevant. Serveral levels of judicial decisions have been specifically clear on the specific issue of same-sex marriage rights, just as judicial decisions have been specifically clear on the specific issue of mixed-race marriage rights. Both of these specifically explain why religious beliefs held by certain people were inhibiting the freedoms of other citizens who didn't share those religious beliefs and why religious freedom and conscience were not adequate arguments to continue to deny equal civic rights to others.] I want to continue to perform my duties, but I also am requesting what our Founders envisioned - that conscience and religious freedom would be protected. [Irrelevant. This is a red-herring argument. "Our Founders" also envisioned a nation that included slavery as a fundamental part of life, but specific amendments to the Constitution and specific Supreme Court decisions have moved the nation away from "what our Founders envisioned" ... which is exactly a system that others of "our Founders envisioned."] That is all I am asking. [You are asking for special rights to impose your religious beliefs and motivated morality upon people who don't share your personal religious beliefs or motivated morality. Just like they are not allowed to use an office of government to foist their beliefs and moral judgments upon you, you don't get to use your governmental office to do it to them.] I never sought to be in this position, and I would much rather not have been placed in this position. [You specifically did seek to be in the position of county clerk. You ran for the position and won an election, so you are lying to say that you didn't seek out the position of county clerk. While the specific duty of issuing marriage certificates to two men or to two women who want to get married was not part of your job when you started, it did become part of your job. And considering how same-sex marriage has been wending its way through the court system well before you even ran for office, it is likely that you had a suspicion that county clerks might well be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. ...but if the possibility never even crossed your mind, then you were either massively naive or horribly uninformed as to the larger socio-political forces in the country. But all that is irrelevant to the question of your capacity to fulfill the duties of your office at the present time, based on the present law to the people you were elected to serve.] I have received death threats from people who do not know me. [That is truly unfortunate, but an irrelevant argument as to why you have not and are not doing your job.] I harbor nothing against them. [Repetitive and still irrelevant.] I was elected by the people to serve as the County Clerk. [You are not serving the people as the county clerk.] I intend to continue to serve the people of Rowan County, but I cannot violate my conscience. [Irrelevant, and you are creating a false choice. You always had the choice to resign from your position, and you still retain that choice.]"
What I get from her statement is that she thinks that failing to do her job and ignoring a court order in so doing is somehow actually doing her job. What I get from her statement is that she doesn't understand that she is not allowed to use her government office to impose her religious beliefs upon other people who don't share her religious beliefs. What I get from her statement is that she wants people to know that she is a "good person" instead of being a good county clerk (and that the two are somehow in opposition to each other). What I get from her statement is that she doesn't consider it to be her job to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, because it wasn't part of her job when she won her election. Finally, what I get from her statement is that she seems to prefer serving her version of her deity more than the people of her county, despite her statements to the contrary.

And to that last point, I actually applaud her. She is completely wrong on every other point, but - at least according to what I see - she is being consistent with her internal logic.

If her office were up for re-election, though, I hope that the citizens of the county choose to vote based on how she fulfilled her role as County Clerk, and not that of religious arbiter.

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