Doing Your Job

Shortly after the Obergefell decision was handed down, the states complied with the ruling by instructing their employees to issue marriage license to gay couples who applied. Almost all have complied. A couple of counties in Texas and a few in Alabama are refusing. But the debate has come to center around Kim Davis, a clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, who has refused to issue marriage licenses because she says it violates her religious liberty. She has been ordered by the courts to issue marriage licenses and the Supreme Court has now denied her appeal on religious grounds.

On this matter, I find myself agreeing with Ed Morrissey:

We’ve written plenty of posts defending religious freedom and the right to choose not to participate in private ceremonies, but this case is different. The other cases about which we have written involve private enterprise — bakers, photographers, venue owners — who do not exercise a monopoly on their markets. Operating a private business should not strip people of the right to free religious expression in all phases of their lives; other businesses can and do wish to participate in those events, and the free market should be free for all within it.

Government is not a free market, however; it is a monopoly backed up by force. If the law says these couples can apply for and receive a marriage license, then government has to abide by that law. They exercise a monopoly on marriage licenses; these couples cannot go anywhere else to get one. This is a denial of access to market by government force, essentially, a much different situation than with bakers, photographers, and so on.

Accepting office in government means upholding the law. If that conflicts with Davis’ religious beliefs, then she should resign and find other work. Ignoring the law and denying services on the basis of an official’s own desires is a form of petty tyranny. We may not like the law, but those in office cannot be allowed to decide for themselves which they follow on the basis of personal preference.

I said the same thing when Judge Roy Moore refused to move a monument to the Ten Commandments after a court order (and Moore is also telling Alabama clerks not to issue licenses). If you have a moral objection to what the government has ordered you to do, you should resign your position. You do not get to just refuse and keep drawing a paycheck.

There’s been some noise about how many times Kim Davis has been married and what her personal life is like. I find that to be pointless muck-raking. If Davis were a paragon of virtue, would that make a difference? Then what’s the point in wallowing in her personal life? She would be wrong if she were Mother Theresa. Her job to is to issue marriage licenses compliant with the law. She’s not doing her job. She’s disobeying a court order. Either force to resign or arrest her for Contempt.

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  1. Seattle Outcast

    I find the whole “higher/god’s authority” line to epic BS.  Fictional characters don’t have any “authority”….

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  2. yabkpjo

    I agree this woman should lose her job, but jail time seems a bit harsh (unless that’s normal for misconduct by elected officials at her level or something).

    Also, I remember being surprised and disappointed that Gavin Newsom didn’t face any similar consequences for his gay marriage license stunt in 2004.

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