You may have read some of the comments from Pope Francis regarding religious freedom during his recent trip to the US, and whilst he did not specifically reference Kim Davis when describing conscientious objection as a right, it’s easy to read between the lines. The new poster child of the religious right and seen by many as the face of "religious opposition" to the Supreme Court’s ruling on equal marriage in June, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis has become a martyr for the cause of every cross-branding homophobe from San Diego to Rhode Island. Imprisoned for a short time by a District Federal Judge for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Davis has been described by some as the Rosa Parks of her generation. Except she’s not Rosa Parks; Kim Davis is the bus driver who asked Rosa to vacate her seat.
I don’t disagree that it is the right of anyone to object morally to issues that they have a disagreement with, marriage equality being no exception. What I do have an issue with, however, is when that moral objection makes its way into legislation or interferes with the due process that affords another citizen the same treatment and quality of citizenship as those who oppose it. Pope Francis has made his views and that of the Catholic Church quite clear on the issue of homosexuality and equal marriage. I have no issue with that. The Pope can and should be able to say what he feels he must, but that does not mean his comments are excused from scrutiny or challenge.
I fear that the message Kim Davis has been denied her religious freedom by being asked to do the job she was elected to do (the one that she volunteered for, campaigned for, and won) and is paid a handsome $80,000 a year for, is something that will cause the religious right, and indeed, anyone with an ax to grind against any minority, to dig their heels in. Mike Huckabee, the Tea Party candidate for the United States Presidency, has repeatedly called into question the authority of the Supreme Court of the United States, claiming that he will "never bow" to unelected judges.
Let’s get one thing straight: Kim Davis has not been denied her religious freedom any more than she has been denied the right to get married (now on her fourth marriage.) Nothing is stopping Mrs. Davis from observing her religion; nothing is stopping her from holding her private beliefs in high regard or to celebrate her faith in the fellowship of fellow Christians. If Mrs. Davis has a problem with doing her job then she should resign and find something that she can do without having a horrendously negative and personal impact on the lives of her constituents. Let’s not forget that Kim Davis also instructed her staff not to issue any marriage licenses to anyone, straight couples and gay alike. That is an abdication of responsibility and obstruction of due process as upheld by the United States constitution. It is not, as Pope Francis describes, conscientious objection.
It is not the right of Kim Davis, Mike Huckabee, or even the Pope to decide which parts of the United States constitution apply to certain citizens and not others. It is not Mrs. Davis’s right to refuse to do her job and discriminate against same-sex couples due to her "deeply held" religious beliefs on the institution of marriage. She is not Rosa Parks, she is the bus driver.
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