Ruth Ann Dailey (Guest Blogger - Columnist in Pittsburgh Post Gazette) - "Dear Kim Davis: Faith and Liberty Can Coexist"

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Special thanks for guest blogger Ruth Ann Dailey for her continued support of common causes that concern Americans and her attempt to show injustices in our society. (And for permission to post her commentary on this blog site). Her column appears regularly in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette Portfolio/Opinion Section.  Please support her column.

  Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis Arrested for Not Signing Same Sex Marriage Certificates

Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis Arrested for Not Signing Same Sex Marriage Certificates

September 7, 2015

  Ruth Ann Dailey

Ruth Ann Dailey

PLEASE CLICK ON TITLE ABOVE TO LEAVE COMMENTS BELOW.  THANK YOU

Special thanks for guest blogger Ruth Ann Dailey for her continued support of common causes that concern Americans and her attempt to show injustices in our society. (And for permission to post her commentary on this blog site). Her column appears regularly in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette Portfolio/Opinion Section.  Please support her column.

 

As a rule, I respect people who are willing to suffer for their convictions, even when I disagree with them. Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, is one such person.

I admire her steadfastness even though I do not share her conviction. But she and I and most citizens likely do have one very serious conviction in common: liberty of conscience.

We believe we should not be forced by the state to violate our respective beliefs. It’s right there inthe First Amendment.

  Supreme Court Justice John Roberts has begun to legislate from the bench rather than act on the laws of our land

Supreme Court Justice John Roberts has begun to legislate from the bench rather than act on the laws of our land

That’s why I would urge Mrs. Davis to find a more productive way to recover her constitutional rights — for everyone’s sake.

The inescapable irony is that her exercise of liberty of conscience violates the consciences of the gay couples who came to her office for marriage licenses.

Responsibility for this needless impasse lies at the feet of the five “liberal” Supreme Court justices who in June overturned the duly passed laws and referendums of many states. They created a win-lose situation, when a win-win was available.

People like Kim Davis are the court’s chosen losers. However, if she refuses to follow the law she is sworn to uphold, then she does indeed belong in prison.

Or — more helpfully — she can suffer for her faith in a way more likely to re-establish and preserve the liberty of conscience she desires — by resigning from her position and working to change bad law.

The fact that Mrs. Davis is a Democrat has been largely lost in the uproar. Most people associateopposition to gay marriage with the religious right and therefore with the Republican Party.

And while her predicament is the kind of thing that will galvanize the Republican base moving into next year’s presidential primaries, any short-term boost comes at a long-term cost. It reinforces the party’s unfortunate image — constantly flacked by the Democratic opposition — as noninclusive.

This is not a winning, long-term strategy — and Republican victories, at the state or national level, will be key to re-asserting the religious liberty Mrs. Davis and others so highly value.

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That’s because voters are increasingly segregating themselves between the two major parties according to their religion — with a strong trend of “unaffiliated” people to the Democrats.

Republicans are steadily picking up more religious voters — white evangelicals, Hispanic Catholics, mainline Protestants and Jews — and the party is widely perceived, by all kinds of voters, as more friendly to faith.

It is very important to acknowledge that across the religious world, opinion on gay marriage is far from uniform. What is pretty uniform, however, is an appreciation for the importance of religion in both personal and public life. Simply put, the religious are far more likely to protect religious liberty.

But some of these same religious people need to understand that it’s highly unlikely the country will return to the way things were before the Supreme Court’s sweeping decision. Plenty of us don’t think we should try.

Instead, a middle ground — a “third way” — must be sought. That way is civil unions for all, regardless of sexual orientation, and there’s no place more likely for this compromise to be enacted than in a state with a high percentage of religiously active people.

Mrs. Davis’ inability to fulfill her job — because of her theology — actually underscores the state’s violation of the religious realm. Before governments existed, marriage was already a rite, ordinance, ceremony or sacrament of the church, synagogue, temple and mosque.

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It is essential to re-establish the separation of church and state — to distinguish the state’s interest in legal contracts from the religious realm’s varied teachings and practices. The state must not endorse one theology above another, but this is what it is currently doing.

In fact, within days of this year’s Supreme Court decision, some secularists began urging the state to go further and remove nonprofit, tax-free status from religious institutions that do not recognize gay marriage.

Surely, religious traditionalists can see what a disaster that would be and can understand how critical it is to quickly push the government back within its appropriate boundaries. If the compromise of civil unions for all displeases religious public officials, let them delegate or move on.

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I wish all of us religious types would actively keep in mind that we cannot know whether what we believe is true. That’s why it’s called “faith.”

Fortunately, faith, love and liberty can co-exist — if we want them to.

Ruth Ann Dailey: ruthanndailey@hotmail.com