While we’ve been away on holiday I’ve been watching, with slowly dropping jaw, the escalation in the Kim Davies case. She is the Rowan County Clerk in Kentucky who has been refusing to issue marriage licences to gay couples.
(The christian right in the USA have been bleating that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life, so I will mention only in passing Ms Davies’s monstrous hypocrisy, as she herself has been married four times, twice to the same man!)
The crunch came last Thursday when Kim was jailed for her persistent refusal to comply with the US Supreme Court’s ruling on equal marriage. This response to her stance is being portrayed as religious persecution, along with some very tasteless and completely unjustified comparisons with the Holocaust.
Let’s get the matter straight. This is NOT victimisation and it is NOT persecution. It is purely and simply a punishment imposed on a public official for a contempt of Court as a direct result of a wilful refusal to do her job.
I have spent a fair amount of my working life in public service. I currently work for a large government department where I am required to administer law. In all those years there have been occasions – thankfully quite few – when I have been required to do things with which I personally disagreed. I’m sure that many of my colleagues will admit the same. If I were ever to refuse to do those things I would be disciplined, if needs be to the point of dismissal. If I refused to comply with an Order from a Court I could be jailed.
This is a fact of life for public officials – part of the deal! You take the job knowing that you might have to do things you don’t agree with, and if the struggle between public duty and private conscience becomes too great you find another job. You CANNOT just pick and choose which parts of the law you will apply. THAT’S NOT HOW THIS WORKS!
When Civil Partnerships were introduced in the UK there were similar arguments put up by a few christian registrars, but these were all rejected by the Courts. In most cases they were quietly transferred to other duties, but one or two just had to go – and so will Kim Davies unless she does the job she was elected to do.
She has been told that she will remain in jail until she complies or resigns. I say Let Her Rot!