Davis v. Duty
By: Larry Zhang, Senior Editor
Kim Davis is known as the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, with claims that she was acting under “God’s authority.” This comes as no surprise, as the Rowan County clerk adheres to a strict, literal interpretation of the Bible. Arrested Thursday afternoon, 49 year-old Davis stated, “I’ve weighed the cost and I’m prepared to go to jail, I sure am. This has never been a gay or lesbian issue for me. This is about upholding the word of God.” But how can someone who so upholds the “sanctity” of “traditional marriage” be so hypocritical when it comes to her own marriages? And what should we make of it when someone like Davis uses religion to justify defying a U.S. Federal Court order?
Davis’s own court records show that she has married four times and divorced three times, with the divorces occurring in 1994, 2006, and 2008. Moreover, it’s been revealed that she has given birth to twins born out of wedlock shortly after divorcing her first husband, with the children being fathered by her third husband and adopted by her second. According to Davis’s literalist interpretation of the Bible, she has sinned worthy of being “stoned to death.” Yet again and again, this has not deterred Kim Davis from refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even turning away one couple five times.
The responses to Davis’s actions have ranged from death threats to praise from conservative Christians, many of whom share Davis’s belief that she will go to “hell if she issued marriage certificates to homosexuals.” But returning to the larger point of controversy, what should we make of Davis’s hypocrisy? Her past marriages, divorces, and now newfound claims of adultery all discredit her beliefs in traditional marriage, but others claim that she has since been “born again.” Even with these assertions, it’s hard to find validity in denying court orders on the basis of religious justification. It’s also hard to argue against the “separation of church and state,” a phrase used largely by the Supreme Court of the United States in protecting and guaranteeing the First Amendment to the Constitution.
In a public statement, Davis said, “The public is my boss. Being a public servant is ingrained in me and I want to continue providing the high level of customer service we do while treating people with respect, kindness, and helping them with whatever situation they have.” With this, Davis claims to understand what it means to provide and serve for the public, yet does she practice what she “preaches”? In my eyes, no. Davis continues to justify her denying of marriage licenses to homosexual couples, even though the Court has decided that it is in the best interest of the people to allow said marriages. Who is she to argue with the Court? And moreover, how does someone like Davis reconcile her duties as a marriage clerk with her duties to her God?
There’s a simple solution for Kim Davis: she should find a new job that doesn’t conflict with her religious views. If it is her public duty to grant licenses to couples of all kinds, yet against her religious duty, then it seems like the two cannot be reconciled, at least not for someone with her beliefs. One thing worth mentioning is that it would be foolhardy for anyone to argue that Davis has no right to believe in, or exercise, what she does, because such a right is protected by the First Amendment. However, when such beliefs infringe upon the rights of the people, a conflict is inevitable. Such conflict, however, doesn’t warrant using one’s religion to justify breaking the law, especially when it arises from the hypocrisy of Kim Davis’s own marriages.