George Takei owns Kim Davis and her defenders on First Amendment

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis is considered a hero in the eyes of many social conservatives, who are quite sure — against all available evidence — that she isn’t a bigot. But she is. And if she continues to be a bigot on the government’s dime, she’ll likely find herself back behind bars, where people who insist on breaking the law generally wind up.

Davis claims that she is acting in accordance with her own moral judgment. As a Christian, she believes that she is obligated to perform her job in a manner that reflects her values, including denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marry.

Several Republican candidates for president have stressed their support for Davis’s right to deny marriage licenses to couples. Mike Huckabee has been her strongest supporter, it seems, going so far as to claim that her initial jail time (on being in contempt of court) is an example of Christian persecution. From Breitbart:

“Having Kim Davis in federal custody removes all doubt of the criminalization of Christianity in our country,” Huckabee said in a press release Thursday afternoon. “We must defend religious liberty and never surrender to judicial tyranny.”

No one is arguing that Kim Davis can’t have thoughts and feelings about same-sex marriage, and to deny her the right to have them or even deny her the right to promote them would be against her First Amendment religious and speech rights.

But Kim Davis is also a public servant. She is expected to adhere to the laws when operating in a public capacity, even if she disagrees with them on a personal level.

Leave it to George Takei to make this plain. In observing the ongoing mess in Rowan County, Kentucky, Takei commented that, “she is entitled to hold her religious beliefs, but not to impose those beliefs on others.” He added:

It's OK to be Takei, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s OK to be Takei, via Wikimedia Commons

Permitting a state employee to foist her religion upon others, denying them a fundamental right as articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell, would be to give government, through this agent, the power to impose religious doctrine and viewpoint. That it cannot do. Ms. Davis is in effect establishing religion by using her governmental powers to impose her religious views.

 

We would consider any action that Davis did to be reprehensible were it to have been done by any other member of the public sector. A police officer or a firefighter acting in the same way — refusing service to same-sex individuals on the basis of their personal religious beliefs — would be considered unlawful and dangerous in the eyes of the public.

And why stop at religious beliefs? What if the director of the FDA becomes a vegetarian and decides that by signing off on meat inspections, they are endorsing the practice of eating meat, which is against their sincerely-held beliefs. No one has any problem understanding how ridiculous their case would be, yet that’s exactly the same argument Davis is making.

The Supreme Court, in its Obergefell decision earlier this year, recognized that “marriage is a keystone of the Nation’s social order.” But it also recognized that denying same-sex couples the right to marriage was disrupting that order, thereby interrupting and burdening the lives of American families who sought out legal recognition that straight couples already received.

In that way, it wasn’t same-sex couples who were seeking “special rights,” as some like to argue. Rather, it was straight couples who had been receiving them all along, at the expense of same-sex couples.

Kim Davis wants to pretend that her actions were individualistic, but as a public servant — an agent of government — she is required by law to uphold the Constitution when performing her job duties. When she didn’t do so, she acted against the law, and was rightfully held in contempt of court.

If you have any questions, take them up with George.

 


Chris Walker has been a political writer for more than ten years, contributing freelance opinion pieces to several online publications as well as managing his own blog, Political Heat, for more than six years. With a B.A. in Political Science and Journalism, Chris tries to bring a unique angle to every article he produces, including Millennial perspectives on the issues he's covering. Chris resides in Madison, Wisconsin, and proudly owns both a cheesehead and stock in the Green Bay Packers.

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