As I write, so far as I know, Kim Davis continues to rot in jail, and deservedly so.
Throughout the debate over her claim that she gets to opt out of doing her job, and in the process impose her religious views on others, one salient point, has gone largely unremarked, so far as I can see. This entire controversy has been covered as if it only involves gay marriage. The fact that it doesn't is no doubt the reason that even the present day Supreme Court, as stocked with reactionaries as it is, had no trouble turning down her appeal, without, so far as we know, a dissenting voice. Not even Scalia. Not even Thomas. Now why is that, do you suppose.
Well, the first thing that occurs to this well honed (okay, we can debate that point) legal mind is what should be a fairly obvious point. The principle for which Ms. Davis advocated cannot possibly be limited to opposition to gay marriage. At least not if we hope to preserve any vestige of rationality in our legal system. Confining ourselves to marriage licenses for the moment, what's to stop the next Kim Davis from denying a marriage license, due of course, to sincerely held religious views, because the couple have different skin colors; because one or both have been previously married; because the couple intends to solemnize their marriage before a JP instead of getting Jesus involved; or because one or both of them is a Republican and should not be allowed to breed. The latter, by the way, is my sincerely held religious belief. If you accept Davis's argument, you must allow every county clerk to impose their religious views. If you attempt to choose among them, by confining permissible bigotry to the anti-gay kind, for instance, you are violating the First Amendment in yet another way: you are establishing a religion. So you must grant clerks unfettered discretion to impose any religious doctrine they wish, or, you must do the rational thing and put people like Davis in jail. Even Scalia can see that.
Yet, the members of our press corps, so far as I've seen or heard, can't seem to grasp this simple point, or, if they can, they have yet to confront any of the Republican presidential candidates who have rushed to embrace Ms. Davis (who, is, by the way, and much to our embarrassment, a Democrat) with the logical implications of their position. Have any of them been asked if they think Ms. Davis could turn away an interracial couple, were that her sincerely held belief? Isn't that a rather obvious question? Since we can assume that even the bigots running for the Republican nomination wouldn't go that far (officially, anyway), we would surely like to hear how they would draw a line between racial bigotry and homophobia.
To stray from the point a bit, I'd certainly like to hear Jeb! try to articulate a distinction, given his recent pronouncement on the subject:
“It seems to me that there ought to be common ground, there ought to be a big enough space for her to act on her conscience, and for now that the law is the law of the land, for a gay couple to be married in whatever jurisdiction that is,” Bush told reporters after a town hall event in New Hampshire, according to Buzzfeed News. “I’m a little confused about why that can’t be done.”
via Daily Kos
I'm a little confused too. This sort of reminds me of the question posed by the Firesign Theatre: “How can you be two places at once, when you're not anywhere at all”. Jeb appears to be arguing for a two universe solution, in one of which the gay couple at issue gets married, while in the other universe Ms. Davis gets to impose her views on them. Anyway, imagine Jeb! trying to explain why discriminating against gays is religious freedom while discriminating against interracial couples is not. While we're on the subject, I'd sure like to see someone pose the question to Ben Carson.