Church and state: one marriage that should be denied

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Church and state: one marriage that should be denied

Correction: In the printed version of this article, we mistakenly said that “within the Bible itself, not one word about same sex marriage appears…” It should have said: “In the Bible, there is no direct quote from Jesus Christ about same sex marriage.” The sentence has been fixed in this version.

In response to Kim Davis’s discriminatory actions, social activists in her home county of Rowan, Kentucky have erected a billboard in protest. (Google)

By IONA BATCHELDER
Opinion Editor

A Kentucky county clerk named Kim Davis was jailed by Judge David L. Bunning for refusing to comply with his ruling that she had to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples on September 3, 2015. Davis appealed her case multiple times and was denied stays twice. This conflict arose in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges in July, which effectively legalized gay marriage in the United States.

Davis, who was an elected Democrat before becoming a Republican this year, refused to grant the licenses to same-sex couples due to her extreme Christian beliefs. She attempted to use the First Amendment’s freedom of religion clause to exempt herself from having to grant the licenses.

Davis received national attention from both political parties. Some Republicans, such as current presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, flocked to her side. Others, like former Florida governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush, took a more neutral stance, while some, including presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, completely disagreed with her stance (Slate). The widespread reaction from Democrats was one of incredulity and annoyance.

Despite her release from jail on September 8, Davis continues to be a topic of conversation in our national political discourse. On his first official visit to the U.S., Pope Francis briefly met with Davis; a meeting that, when published by Davis’ lawyers, was quickly downplayed by the Vatican.

Foremost among the many controversies and issues that surround Kim Davis is that she is hypocritical – she has been married four times and her personal life reads like an Us Weekly issue. In the Bible, there is no direct quote from Jesus Christ about same sex marriage, yet he speaks personally on the topic of marrying after divorce, saying to his disciples “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:11-12).

The idea of homosexuality as a sin is mentioned in the Bible most prominently in the Book of Leviticus from the Old Testament, which also bans many activities that all people, even Christians partake in, including not standing in the presence of the elderly (19:32), eating seafood (11:10-12) and even drinking alcohol in holy places (10:9).

While the Bible is the Holy Book of Christians, no Christian follows every single tenet in the Bible, simply because Christians themselves no longer follow the Old Testament as it is plainly outdated. Thus, it is not only hypocritical but also ridiculous when any Christian attempts to justify his or her opposition to same-sex marriage by citing a verse from the Bible, especially Leviticus 18:22.

While many can debate the legitimacy of certain biblical verses for as long as they would like, the fact remains that the U.S. is a country founded on several basic principles, one of the most important being the separation of church and state. The Supreme Court has ruled that all government offices must provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Therefore, all government offices must provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples. When a person works for the government, there is no wiggle room for his or her so-called “religious objections” if those objections conflict with the duties of the office.

Davis is a government official, and her “constitutional rights,” which she insists give her permission to deny homosexual couples marriage licenses, are trumped by her constitutional responsibility to respect the integrity of the separation of church and state. Furthermore, it is deplorable that Davis or others would attempt to use such a petty excuse to deny happiness to millions of same-sex couples.

Davis is the epitome of the hypocritical members of government, such as Mike Huckabee, who claim that America and its current government are waging a war against Christians. Davis and her fellow bigoted supporters seem to forget that the very freedom of religion clause in our Constitution that they continue to use in support of their arguments is the exact clause that protects Americans who are tired of certain Christians trying to manipulate laws to conform to their religious beliefs. Consider, for instance, that the people who are the most vocal about their fear of Sharia law taking over the U.S. are the same people attempting to implement almost Sharia-style tenets in American laws. Kim Davis, Mike Huckabee and the rest of America’s far right are no better Christians than the members of ISIS are Muslims. I am not saying that Davis and her cronies would bomb institutions, kill innocent individuals or execute many of the horrors that ISIS has completed throughout the Middle East. However, their obsession with carrying out the most outdated of their religious beliefs is quite similar to that of ISIS, which uses very outdated tenets of Islam to justify several of their practices.

America’s government is not at war with Christians. If anything, those extreme Christians on the far-right fringes of the Republican party are at war with America’s government. And our government should do everything in its power to continue to uphold the Constitution our founding fathers penned in 1789. The freedom of religion clause in the Constitution is one of the most important tenets of our nation, and when people like Kim Davis attempt to abuse it and use it for their own selfish means, our whole country suffers.

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