If Kim Davis and her knight in shining armor Mike Huckabee are to be believed, Davis has suffered “immediate and irreparable injury" because she was expected to perform the duties for which she was hired: that of Kentucky's Rowan County clerk.
Davis's attorney is saying that Davis “is facing immediate and substantial harm and consequences for exercising her individual constitutional and statutory rights.” And what right does she want to exercise? Her religion condemns homosexual activity, so she doesn't want to be required to issue legal marriage licenses to gay couples. She wants to perform only the parts of her job that don't, in her mind, conflict with her religious beliefs. Should she be allowed to do that?
We have a similar case in flight attendant Charee Stanley, a Muslim, who refuses to serve alcoholic beverages to passengers. Lena Masri, an attorney with Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says, "... no one should have to choose between their career and religion and it's incumbent upon employers to provide a safe environment where employees can feel they can practice their religion freely." And what does Stanley demand? Her religion bans the consumption of alcohol. She wants to perform only the parts of her job that don't, in her mind, conflict with her religious beliefs. Should she be allowed to do that?
Of these two women, I actually have more sympathy for Davis (though I am by no means exonerating her). In her case, even though the law has changed, she can truthfully say that when she took her current job, there was no legal basis for gay couples to be granted marriage licenses in Kentucky, and she could turn them away with impunity. But, in fact, the law has changed, and it's now her job to supply marriage licenses to all citizens, anyone's religion notwithstanding. Stanely, on the other hand, must have known very well what the job of a flight attendant entails.
What they have in common, however, is this: They have placed their secular jobs on a priority level at least as high as their religions.
Now let's look at another couple of examples, where the individual in question is actually being persecuted.
In trying to resolve child custody issues with her ex-husband, Holly Salzman was court-ordered into counseling and was sent specifically to one Mary Pepper. Salzman chooses to live without the crutch/comfort/whatever of an institutionalized religion. Pepper, on the other hand, claims to be Christian, and she proceeded to inundate Salzman with proselytizing brochures, verbal religious pablum, and Christian-based "homework" assignments. When Salzman protested, her sons were taken away from her until she subjected herself again to the ministrations of this religious extremist. Turns out the "Christian" Pepper was operating under the table, meeting clients in public libraries (a legal no-no), and insisting on secrecy and cash payments so her chicanery wouldn't be exposed. Um... these are Christian principles? And what about Salzman's constitutional and statutory rights when it comes to religion and to—oh, I don't know, keeping her kids?
Then we have high schooler Brianna Popour, a lesbian who wanted other gay kids to feel as though they could be comfortable with themselves, so she wore a T-shirt to school (not against school dress codes) with this message written on it: "Nobody knows I'm a lesbian." School officials labeled the message "disruptive, offensive, and distracting," and the girl was suspended. So, just for openers: What about Popour's first amendment rights?
- Holly Salzman was forced by the secular court to be subjected to unwanted religious rantings and worse, in a situation that was illegal, and she had submit or lose her sons permanently. This is essentially not a choice.
- Brianna Popour has been told that her very nature is "offensive," and she was told to leave school. She has no choice about being gay; all she wanted to do was be open and honest about that, and to encourage other gay kids to feel comfortable in their own skins.
- The Kim Davises and the Charee Stanleys of the world have chosen their religions, and they have chosen their jobs. The law does not require Davis to marry a woman or Stanley to drink anything she doesn't want to consume. And if they're going to treat their jobs as though the jobs were as sacred as their religions are said to be, how seriously do we need to take their cries of religious persecution?
And, by the way, Mike Huckabee, why aren't you leaping to Stanley's defense as you did with Davis? What's that you say? Oh—sorry; I forgot for a minute, there. Christianity is the one true religion.
Religious freedom and First Amendment rights are yours, as long as you're Christian? I see. So all this gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair isn't really about religious freedom, is it?