A sense of satisfaction overwhelms me when a government employee goes to jail for failing to execute her tax payer entrusted duties. That’s under normal circumstances. The recent events in Rowan County Kentucky were anything but normal. For the first and probably only time, I didn’t experience that gratification. Like many, I felt a deep sense of revulsion over Kim Davis’ decision to serve as a law answerable only to her. My contempt for those who supported her exceeded even that. To hear individuals cast her in the role of a Martin Luther King, Jr. to the Supreme Court’s Bull Connor makes a mockery of the Civil Rights Movement.
Those in opposition to freedom of marriage couldn’t have selected a more unlikely champion of its sanctity. Ms. Davis is, after all, on her fourth…so far.
A few weeks ago she decided to switch political parties after 32 years. Her most recent political campaign for Rowan County Clerk took place less than a year ago. This behavior raises questions as to just how committed she’ll remain to her current principles.
I’ve always been intrigued by those who argue that gay marriage will “change the traditional view of marriage.” The so called “tradition” has been rather fluid throughout history. In their delusional antediluvian “Leave It to Beaver” view of America some lose sight of that. They also selectively forget that the “traditionalism” of the 1950s metamorphosed into the counter-culture of the 1960s in less than a generation. Why then did a time so idyllic, become so turbulent so quickly?
For centuries procreation served as marriage’s exclusive purpose. Until the advent of the Industrial Age, people inhabited agrarian societies. Children provided a much needed labor force for working the fields from dusk until dawn. For those select fortunate enough not to perform manual labor, the institution served as a means of political union between powerful families. The concept of a marriage based on love is a very modern phenomenon. If anything, gay marriage is a logical outcome of this contemporary development.
I’ve often observed, “Until homosexuals have the right to be as miserable as we heterosexuals, there can be no equality between us.” I do have to add one addendum, though. When I’m on my honeymoon with the woman of my dreams: knowing that gay couples can achieve the same level of happiness and fulfillment in their lives won’t diminish my enjoyment in any way.
But this isn’t about marriage or who should have the right to partake in it. Myriad legal scholars have opined on the speciousness of Ms. Davis’ actions. In her role as Rowan County Clerk, her job is to certify that those filing for a marriage license have fulfilled the statutory requirements established by the State of Kentucky to receive one.
I would challenge anyone who asserts that an elected official is entitled to not execute her responsibilities because she either doesn’t agree with the law or like it. If one believes that, one must also respect the views of those clerks who refuse to provide a dog license because they loathe Poodles. Would one agree that the DMV can refuse to grant a driver’s license to those with foreign cars?
If any elected official feels that the statutes she’s elected to uphold violate her principles, she should work within the system to get them changed. Should that not be possible, the only honorable option remaining is to resign. Ours is a nation of laws, not opinions.
We’re all familiar with landmark events of the Civil Rights Movement such as the March on Selma, the “I Have a Dream” speech, and school desegregation. A number of years ago I read Gene Roberts’ and Hank Kilbanoff’s Pulitzer Prize winning history The Race Beat. The book focused on Southern reporters and the perils they faced in writing about the Civil Rights Movement. Had it not been for them getting the story out, the events I cited wouldn’t have had the same impact. It gave me a whole new appreciation for all of those who participated. Those people were true American heroes.
Alas, Ms. Davis is no hero. That won’t stop some from depicting her as such. For those who insist on doing so, I have a suggestion. Why not place effigies of her where they will do the most good? How about placing her likeness with monuments dedicated to other paragons of principle from America’s past? Some appropriate locations that come to mind would be next to those images of Jefferson Davis, Nathan Bedford Forrest or the carving at Stone Mountain.