Prior to the Supreme Court ruling of June 26th, only 15 out of 50 of the United States had not yet passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage. Kentucky was one of those states.
What this means is that little less than three months ago, any clerk working within Kentucky could legally reject a gay couple’s application for a marriage license; however, considering the fact that this not only isn’t the case anymore, but cannot be the case anymore, we must recognize that, technically, refusing to issue a marriage license based on sexual orientation is now an act of discrimination under the law. It is a violation of another American’s civil liberties, and quite frankly, it is a bit like playing God.
Kim Davis, the clerk in question, was taken into custody for five nights on the grounds of contempt of court after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and later refusing to allow her deputies to issue them in her absence.
Davis, a devout Christian woman of 49, contends that issuing a marriage license to gay couples would defy her “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Her morality and her faith in God, she claims, would simply never permit her to do such a thing.
Naturally, when matters of religion come into play regarding the law, a tricky situation arises. While the US Constitution makes it clear that any persons within the country are free to practice the religion they choose, it is also clear that the nation, in its purest self, is a secular one. We can preach about religious accommodation and the freedoms that the First Amendment allows for, but what happens when someone’s interpretation of the First Amendment violates another individual’s right to it? What does it mean when Kim Davis cites her right to freedom of religion as a justification to perpetuate a systemic form of oppression that has since been outlawed?
We cannot use the Christian definition of marriage interchangeably with the civil one, because to do so defies the very foundation of America: separation of church and state.
The fact of the matter is, yes, Davis is allowed her thoughts, ideologies, and freedom of religious exercise, but what makes this situation unique is that she is not only practicing her religion, but also enforcing it upon others. Kim Davis’s commitment to her truth is a newly-engaged lgbtq+ couple’s oppression by the state.
Little less than three months ago, Kim Davis could lawfully deny issuing a marriage license to any and all same-sex couples. Little less than three months ago, it was legally accepted that an entire community of people was not granted the same civil liberties as the rest of the nation, but times have changed, and these changes must be enforced.
– Written by Hadeel Eltayeb (redefy staff writer)