When beliefs and the law clash


Kim Davis is in jail now.

It probably wouldn’t be too much of a surprise that following the Supreme Court decision on July 9 to legalize same-sex marriage throughout the country, many people were opposed to the ruling on religious grounds.

One of those was Davis, the clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky who had a moral opposition to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and has not issued any licenses — to gay or straight couples — in protest.

While I disagree with her view, I feel sorry for Davis and the way she has been portrayed because of her view.

The acceptance of same-sex marriage and gay people in general is very recent. In spring 2014, during one of my classes, we were looking at the statistics from 1996 to 2013. In 1996 the Defense of Marriage Act passed; 2013 was the year the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional. The percentage of people who supported same-sex marriage in that time dramatically increased, which is usually something you would see happen over a generation or two, not 17 years.

Even my mother and I talk about the way society has shifted. When she was my age, most of the gay people she knew or grew up with weren’t open about it; however, throughout high school, college and now, I honestly can’t think of any gay or lesbian friends who were ever closeted about their sexuality. That’s been the norm for my generation, and consequently, many people my age don’t see gay marriage as being a big deal on a moral ground.

However, the generational acceptance and cultural shift doesn’t mean everyone is going to be supportive. That’s no surprise or no problem, as long as it doesn’t cross into any discriminatory behavior.

Frankly, I laughed my butt off at the brouhaha that surrounded Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy stating his belief about marriage being between man and woman. Had he said that and then it was proven Chick-fil-A was refusing to serve gay patrons, we’d have a problem.

However, it’s not hateful to have a differing opinion, and considering that he identifies as a conservative Christian, is it really a surprise that he would not support gay marriage?

I also rolled my eyes at the outrage over Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” stating his views on gay marriage. He’s a self-proclaimed Bible-thumper; would it also be a shock to see a gorilla eating a banana? (And to be quite honest, his comments on gay marriage weren’t the most offensive thing about the interview he did.)

There’s nothing wrong with Davis being opposed to same-sex marriage on religious grounds. If she continued to do her job as she was told to, we wouldn’t be hearing about this.

Beliefs are one thing; actions or lack of them are another. Throughout the Davis ordeal, all I can think of is South Park.

The specific episode features Big Gay Al, a stereotypical gay man with a flamboyant, positive demeanor. He’s the leader of the Mountain Scouts troop the boys join (which is a spoof of the Boy Scouts of America.) Some of the parents are uncomfortable with an openly gay man leading young boys, so the club fires him.

Complete with the cutout-paper parody of attorney Gloria Allred, Big Gay Al sues the Mountain Scouts for discrimination and wins his suit. Instead of rejoining the scouts, he gives a speech about freedom being a two-way street, says the scouts are made up of good men, and as he has the freedom to be an openly gay man, the Mountain Scouts have the freedom to choose who they want to join their private club.

I was relaying the episode synopsis to Mom the other morning as we were listening to the radio about the Davis case. “You know, that was a really mature of him (Big Gay Al),” she said. “It’s too bad more people can’t think and act that way.”

Put simply friends, I don’t see anything wrong with Davis (or anyone for that matter) having a moral opposition to gay marriage. But I would have more respect for her as a Christian if she resigned her position.

Federal law has decided gay marriage is here to stay. Just as it’s discriminatory to deny a gay couple a marriage license, no good can come in forcing someone to do something against their conscience.

Nor is there any benefit in someone staying at a workplace that tasks them with doing something they are morally or ethically opposed to. I don’t think Davis is homophobic, a zealot or any of the other slurs I’ve heard against her. But I do think for everyone’s sake and to best honor her Christian values, leaving the position is the thing to do. Not sitting in jail.

Freedom is a two-way street, after all.

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Reach Allison C. Gallagher at [email protected] or on [email protected]

Reach Allison C. Gallagher at [email protected] or on [email protected]

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