Saturday, September 12, 2015

Hello Kim Davis, Meet My Soapbox

"Marriage Equality Celebration (19007877609)" by Alan Light - Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - 

Attention Janes:  I am dusting off my soapbox with the intention of getting on it.  Fair warning.

I would like to start out by stating that I have no problem with religious freedom.  I have no problem with people who claim to not be able to do something due to various religious reasons.  In fact, I view myself as pretty tolerant of all religions.  I may not fully understand all religious sects or views out there, but I accept that they exist, and I accept that others fully embrace and believe them.

Kudos to you all!

What I can’t stand is someone being so prejudiced and blinded by their religion that they will not make allowances for other people’s beliefs.  That’s not fair.  It's just not.  Religions are based on people’s beliefs as much as they are based on a given sacred text.  What one person believes, another may not, but that doesn’t necessarily make anyone wrong in that situation.  It just means people believe different things.  And that is completely okay.  Let me repeat myself---That is completely ok.
Here’s what really bothers me about the Kim Davis situation.  Kim Davis is an elected government official.  It is her job to issue marriage licenses - that, specifically, is in the job description. Upholding U.S. law is also in her job description.  It's kind of the whole point of her job.

 Since the Supreme Court decision this summer, it is irrelevant what she believes about same-sex marriage.  It is irrelevant what her personal beliefs are.  It is her job to issue the licenses, and if she suddenly has a problem carrying out her job, she needs to step down.  It is not her place to decide who should and should not get a license to marry. End of story.

If a same-sex couple should decide to marry in a church, it is up to the Church to decide whether or not it will marry them.  Any church officiant can decide whether or not they feel two people should be married, and whether or not they can officate.  This is true of ANY marriage. Clergy can deny a holy marriage ceremony to straight or gay couples.  That is their right as an officiant representing their faith. For example, anyone wanting to be married by a priest in a Catholic church has to attend classes and sessions about the deep commitment of holy matrimony.  After these sessions are complete, the priest decides whether or not to perform the ceremony.  The government, on the other hand, doesn’t care whether a church approves or not.  Being married in a church has never been necessary to receive a marriage license. It's this neat thing called separation of church and state.

And let’s not forget that she was refusing to issue any marriage licenses, not just marriage licenses to same-sex couples. So she just flat out wasn't doing her job.  She was sued by a both a gay and straight couple.

So back to Kim Davis and her supporters.  They are all demanding protection for their religious freedom.  No one is attacking religious freedom.  Not a single person.  The couples seeking marriage licenses are just wanting to exercise their freedom to marry--which ALL people are granted under federal law. Why is religion being brough into that? It is not the county clerk’s place to cast divine judgment on a couple.  It is their job to hand over a piece of paper.  Does she know if the couple in question is planning to marry in a church?  Most same-sex couples that I know (and I know quite a few) just want to enjoy the privileges and rights that their straight counterparts experience.  This includes being able to share insurance benefits with their partners.

This might be tough to hear, so bear with me, but we are not a Christian nation.  America has no official religion.  It’s part of the reason we have all of these religious freedom acts and laws.  Therefore, it is not fair for one religion (in this case Christianity) to be forcing beliefs on people.  And before you ask, yes, if it were a person of any other race, nationality, religion, etc. in Kim Davis’ place, doing something similar to prevent marriage licenses from being handed out, the result would still be the same:  it is your job.  

Even the Bible is with me on this, check it out:

Romans 13:1-7....(God command His people to follow the law)  1Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Enforcing the laws of the country equally amongst government officials is not persecution.  Asking government officials to do their jobs is not bullying.  Government officials are sworn to uphold the laws.  It’s called civic duty.  Kim Davis is not doing her civic duty, and that’s the problem. 

    Why can’t we just let this go?  She’s been released from jail.  She’s going back to her job, although she must agree not to interfere with the issuing of marriage licenses, or she’ll go right back to jail.  We can’t let it go because what if other people decide to use their personal religious beliefs to not do their jobs? It becomes a very slippery slope.  Do we want Christian judges refusing to allow people to get divorced? Should a Muslim DMV employee tell women the DMV won't issue drivers licenses to them? Should someone be disallowed to get a passport because s/he is an alcoholic?  Or has tattoos and piercings? Do we want other Chrisitan clerks to deny marriage licenses to folks who have been married multiple times? Shouldn't people be allowed to marry freely, even if it's the third or fourth time? (looking at you Ms. Davis) 

Janes, you do not have to agree with me on any of this.  But I do want you to consider this position:  there is more than one school of thought out there - on any and every position, argument, debate, etc. - even if you don’t agree with it.  After all, isn’t that how good debates work? Acknowledge the other side’s points, then point out why you don’t agree with them, and back that up with indisputable evidence.  

Kim Davis is not wrong to believe as she does.  I don’t agree with her, but I respect her right to believe and worship as she chooses.  However, Kim Davis is wrong to refuse to do her job on these grounds.  Step down, or grit your teeth and bear it.  I would expect the same thing of anyone for any job - including myself, if I suddenly found myself at odds with my employer and/or workplace.  It is only right.  It is only fair.

Mic drop. This is Margaret Jane, stepping off the soapbox. 

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