A lowly public official in Kentucky has refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, despite the recent Supreme Court ruling on the subject. She claims that to do so would violate her religious principles. For her stand, a Republican Federal Judge (the son of former pitching star and U.S. Senator Jim Bunning) and practicing Catholic sentenced Kim Davis to jail.
As could be predicted, this situation resulted in massive media attention, lines being drawn, and politicians of all stripes jumping into the fray. None of which is doing a single thing for anything resembling a serious discussion on what constitutes a proper exercise of faith.
Among conservatives, there is a division of opinion, some siding with her, some insisting the law must be upheld. Among liberals, however, no such debate exists. For liberals, it is always and forever about the agenda. Nothing resembling intellectual consistency is required to support a given position on any particular topic.
The current screech among liberals is that Kim Davis, as a public official, should shut up and “obey the law.” John Podesta, among others, ridicules the idea that a public official has any discretion when it comes to upholding the law. Of course, the idea that religious beliefs might create a basis for any of this is not to be taken seriously by any thinking adult.
Let me be clear here. No doubt, at some point, Kim Davis took an oath of office that included upholding the law. If her religious convictions have put her in a place where to do so would violate those convictions, she has three choices. She can decide that no matter her personal views, the law is the law and start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Second, she can, as an act of conscience, resign her position. Third, she can, as a combination of conscience and an attempt to highlight her views, allow herself to be forcibly removed from her position. Personally, I do not see the need to put her in jail as opposed to merely removing her from her post, but I am not a lawyer, so there may be a compelling legal reason for the jailing. The bottom line though is that it is not an option to remain in office and decide which laws you will uphold and which ones you will not. For me, this is absolutely a consistent conservative position.
This said, it is curious that liberals feel no requirement to be so rigid in adherence to the law of the land when it does not suit their agenda. Enforce immigration laws and regulations? The President, along with his Justice Department, loudly announce they will not do that. Tricky problems with certain aspects of ObamaCare? Why just unilaterally decide to delay the start date (in explicit contradiction to letter law) of those troublesome provisions. Local governments deciding what laws will be enforced or ignored? Not a problem if the law being ignored is one they do not embrace. San Francisco alone has made this a cottage industry.
As to religious freedom, if anyone is honest about it, there is an antipathy among orthodox liberals (with a few notable exceptions such as E.J. Dionne) for anything having to do with faith or religion. Who can forget the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte where the idea of injecting God into the Party Platform was greeted with audible booing? The idea that most liberals spend five seconds worrying about protecting religious freedom for practicing Christians is laughable on its face.
That serious conversation about where religious convictions fit into the public space is completely lost. Kim Davis has a perfect right to her religious views, even if they are ones this practicing Presbyterian does not share. What she does not have a right to do is to insist those views, as a public official, give her the right to ignore the law of the land. Suppose Kim Davis was a Catholic? Could she argue that to issue a divorce decree violates her religion? This is slippery slope that must be avoided.
It is important to have that serious conversation. However, when the only thing that will ever count to liberals is advancing their agenda, that means there is never any consistent criteria for that dialogue. All that persists is the smug and arrogant demand that liberals be allowed to always win, always move their policy priorities forward. Today, upholding the law is ever so critical. Yesterday, not so much. Tomorrow, it depends.
Anytime you can predict in advance exactly what someone will argue, independent of the facts or what they have argued in the past in order to do nothing more than move their agenda forward, it makes serious conversation impossible. So, the next time you see a liberal demanding “we must uphold the law” when it pertains to Kim Davis, take a second to remind that person, you are fine with that line of reasoning, so long as it will apply to other topics where it a little less helpful and convenient to the liberal position.