STORY BY ABIGAIL GRIMMINGER
On June 26, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was legal. People freaked out. Facebook profile pictures were glossed in rainbow colors, the hashtag “#LoveWins” went viral on Twitter and even the White House joined in on the excitement with a rainbow-colored lights display.
Surrounded by so much joy and celebration (I couldn’t imagine same-sex marriage being a divisive issue anymore.) The nation was finally united. Love had won.
Or so I thought. It turns out, however, that great change doesn’t happen overnight. Almost three months later, controversy continues to arise over same-sex marriage.
Kim Davis, a county clerk in Morehead, Kentucky, was released from jail on Wednesday after refusing to grant same-sex couples their marriage licenses. Supporters of Davis argue that this is a matter of religious freedom. By granting same-sex couples their marriage licenses, she would be permitting an act that goes against her religious beliefs.
Davis’s right to religious freedom absolutely shouldn’t be taken away. No one is asking her to say that same-sex marriage is right. She is simply being asked to say that same-sex marriage is legal.
But if you still believe that this is an issue of religious freedom, it’s important to remember that Davis is a public official.
Personal beliefs can’t be used to create public policy. If Davis was willing to allow her deputy clerks to issue same-sex marriage licenses, she probably wouldn’t have gone to jail in the first place. She was refusing to let anyone under her authority give out the licenses, and even now, she continues to insist that the same-sex marriage licenses given out in her absence should be voided. She has been using her individual beliefs to go against the public will, and as a public official, that is the opposite of what she should be doing.
Many people who support same-sex marriage seem to view the Kim Davis story as a non-issue. Although she was released on Wednesday, her judge has already threatened to add more sanctions if she continues to refuse to issue marriage licenses. She seems to serve as more of a political talking point for Mike Huckabee than an actual threat to marriage equality. But I remain uneasy.
As I stated before, Davis’s case was considerably weakened by the fact that she is a public official.
If she was a private business person, her decision probably would have been considered legal in Kentucky because there is no law in that state prohibiting discrimination against same-sex couples. In my home state, Nebraska, it is legal to refuse to hire someone based on their sexual orientation.
If you support marriage equality, it is important to realize that until all states have outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation, love has not won. As long as people like Kim Davis are out there, we have to keep fighting.