Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace stands in the “school house door” confronting National Guard Brig. Gen. Henry Graham at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa June 11, 1963 in a symbolic effort to block integration of the institution. (AP Photo)There’s a long and not exactly auspicious history in this country of people resisting court orders aimed at defending the civil rights of minority groups.
On Tuesday, a Kentucky county clerk named Kim Davis created the basis for the latest chapter. Davis is refusing to issue marriage licenses to anyone so that she might avoid the task of having to issue or refuse to issue one to a gay or lesbian couple. Davis said in a statement released by Liberty Counsel, a Christian legal organization representing her, that her religious beliefs bar her from doing so.

I love my job and the people of Rowan County. … I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage. To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience.

[Defying court, Kentucky clerk denies gay marriage licenses under, “God’s authority.”]
She made similar comments during a last-ditch legal bid Monday that went before the U.S. Supreme Court and failed. Davis’s reasons might be principled and deeply rooted in her faith. There’s no real public reason to question that or even the accuracy of her read on the Bible.
But as an elected public official, Davis’s duties include issuing documents such as marriage licenses that bring with them a whole host of tax and other financial benefits and clarify procedures and rights in the event of an accident, a death or even a break-up.
Davis is free to believe whatever she would like; this is America. However, multiple courts have said she is not at liberty to impose her beliefs at work in such a way that the legal rights, options and access of others is curtailed. Of course, from Davis’s point of view — and many Americans who agree with her, especially white evangelicals, according to a June 2014 Public Religion Research Institute poll — forcing her to issue licenses to same-sex couples impinges on her religious liberty.
[Kentucky clerk ordered to court]
And here’s the thing: The real issue …Read More