Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis refuses to issue same-sex marriage licenses because doing so would violate her religious beliefs. While I vehemently disagree with Davis’ beliefs about same-sex marriage, I wholeheartedly support her for taking a stand for what she thinks is moral, and I admire her willingness to maintain her convictions in the face of enormous pressure. It’s an example that many of us would do well to heed.
With rare exceptions, I don’t think anyone should have to do something that violates their sincerely-held moral convictions. If morality has any meaning at all, then it’s something we should stand up for, regardless of political, social and even legal circumstances. Morality isn’t something that we should simply set aside for the sake of convenience, it’s something we should uphold no matter what the consequences.
And yes, there will be consequences. Every moral choice has implications that we must live with. In this case, Davis seems prepared to face the consequences of her stand. How many of us would be willing to face fines, jail, loss of our job and public humiliation over a moral issue? How many of us would instead choose the far easier path of capitulation?
Unfortunately, much of the discussion surrounding this case is focused on tangential issues. I’ve seen far too many attacks on Davis that focus on her alleged hypocrisy, especially in regards to her checkered marital history, as well as her apparent willingness to issue marriage licenses to people who have been divorced. These ad hominem attacks entirely miss the issue at hand. Regardless of her personal history and regardless of her actions in relation to any other given moral issue, Davis is choosing to take a stand on the issue of same-sex marriage.I’ve also seen a disturbing number of attacks that focus on Davis’ appearance. Really? That’s the level some stoop to when dealing with a divisive religious, social and legal issue? Davis’ appearance is entirely irrelevant and those who seem to delight in poking fun at her on this front should be ashamed of themselves.
I personally don’t think Davis is a hero, but I can understand how others might. Imagine the situation turned on its head: same-sex marriage is the law of the land and Davis has been happily issuing same-sex marriage licenses for years. Then one day a federal law is passed making same-sex marriage illegal. And, based on her religious belief in full equality for all people, and in direct defiance of the new law, Davis continues to issues same-sex marriage licenses and refuses to stop when directly ordered to do so. Wouldn’t many of us call her actions commendable? Wouldn’t we rally in support of her? Wouldn’t we issue angry cries of protest if she was sent to prison for supporting same-sex marriage?
The way I see it, taking a stand for a moral conviction is, in most cases, a laudable action. Perhaps if more of us were willing to take public stands for what we believe in — regardless of the consequences — America would already be a place where issues of race, gender and sexual orientation were no longer contentious and where situations like the Kim Davis debacle would have already been relegated to the ash heap of history.
Dan is the Executive Editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians blog. He is a writer, graphic designer and IT specialist. He lives in Montana, is married and has two cats.