September 7, 2015

The Sixth and First vs. the Second

In yesterday's post, I explained the real reason Kim Davis is in jail.

Among those who believe, erroneously, that  Davis is being persecuted for her religious views, for being a Christian, are some of the Republican presidential candidates. Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee have clearly come out on that side of the equation, as I noted yesterday. But where do the rest of the Rs stand on this?

Well, here's a sampling.

Front runner Donald Trump thinks that others in the Rowan County Clerk's office should be able to issue the licenses, or that frankly, people should leave town and get one somewhere else.
I would say the simple answer is to let her clerks do it. Now from what I understand, she's not letting the clerks do it either.  The other simple answer is rather than going through this -- because it's really a very, very sticky situation and terrible situation - 30 miles away they have other places they have many other places you get licenses. And you have them actually quite nearby, that's another alternative. 
He's half right - others in her office should be able to issue the marriage licenses, and in fact began doing so last week.  However, his suggestion that citizens cannot receive services in their own county because one elected official decides that her beliefs are more important than the law, is not acceptable.

Kentucky's own Senator Rand Paul says the answer is for states to stop issuing marriage licenses all together.
There never should have been any limitations on people of the same sex having contracts. But I do object to the state putting its imprimatur to the specialness of marriage, on something that's different than most people defined as marriage for most of history. So one way is just getting the state out completely, and I think that's where we're headed, actually.
Paul's answer is at least consistent with his beliefs in smaller government, and it removes the issue entirely by making marriage a contract between two parties with 'blessings' coming from a church if that's what you believe. But he too stays away from addressing the issue of an elected official not doing her job.

Rick Santorum, on his website, notes his respect for Davis, and vows to protect the First Amendment if elected.
I have great respect for Ms. Davis and her courage to stand up for her faith. In America we should not have to choose between keeping our job and practicing our faith. Today only reinforces my belief that the First Amendment Defense Act must be passed now at the Federal and state level. More and more people of faith will face the penalties Ms. Davis is now encountering if we do not make the necessary accommodations so people cannot just worship but live out their faith in their lives.
Santorum, like others, chooses to ignore the fact that Ms Davis is not just living out her faith, but insisting that everyone else live by her faith as well.

Similarly, Louisiana's Bobby Jindal  is on the wrong side of this. Speaking to the Huffington Post, he noted
I don't think anyone should have to choose between following their conscience and religious beliefs and giving up their job and facing financial sanctions. I think it's wrong to force Christian individuals or business owners. We are seeing government today discriminate against whether it's clerks, florists, musicians or others. I think that's wrong. I think you should be able to keep your job and follow your conscience. I absolutely do believe that people have a First Amendment right, a constitutional right. I don't think the court can take that away. 
And Wisconsin's golden boy Scott Walker?  He was "out there" in his response, (which is where he believes religious beliefs are practiced).
It's a balance that you've got to have in America between the laws that are out there, but ultimately ensuring the Constitution is upheld. I read that the Constitution is very clear, that people have the freedom of religion.  That means you have the freedom to practice your religious beliefs out there.
So, in general, these folks who would be president think that:
  • it's OK for an elected official to put his or her personal religious beliefs above the law, and 
  • it's generally OK for an elected official to impose those personal beliefs on everyone else,
  • or that citizens should just find another jurisdiction to obtain the services they're entitled to,
  • or that the government should just get out of the business of doing things that people may find objectionable.  

OK.  Let's pretend those are the right answers, the correct positions to have here. And let's say that I'm an elected official, and among my duties, I'm required to issue gun licenses and permits for folks who want to concealed-carry.

And let's say that it is my personal belief that guns kill people, and I steadfastly believe that 'Thou shalt not kill, and therefore I refuse to issue any gun licenses or concealed-carry permits.  And say that a judge orders me to issue the licenses and permits, and I not only refuse to issue them myself, but I also refuse to allow anyone else in my office to issue them. And say I try to get the Supreme Court to hear my case, and they refuse. And I still will not issue the permits, because of this 'heaven and hell' position my beliefs put me in (as Davis says), and so I go to jail.

  • Would Mike Huckabee hold a rally for me, and petition the President to free me right now?
  • Would Rick Santorum craft legislation to protect me? 
  • Would Rand Paul suggest that the government get out of the gun permitting business, and have that just be a contract between two parties?
  • Would Donald Trump simply send me to a different jurisdiction to avoid this "very, very sticky situation and terrible situation" in which I placed the citizens I was elected to serve?  

I think we all know the answer to that: Of. Course. Not.

Because a citizen exercising her personal right to practice her religion and live by her personal belief  that guns are killing machines and are against her religion, thereby barring other people from being able to exercise their right to own a gun? Well, that's a completely different constituency, and we know it's one that no Republican is going to defy.

These folks would be committing political suicide if they stood by me in a battle of the Sixth Commandment and the First Amendment vs. the Second Amendment.  I know it; you know it; and they know it. Add another twist - say I was a Muslim, or an atheist -- and we'd barely be able to see them in the rear view mirror.

These candidates should all take a page out of Carly Fiorina's book:
When you are a government employee as opposed to say, an employee of another kind of organization, then in essence, you are agreeing to act as an arm of the government. And while I disagree with this court's decision, their actions are clear. And so I think in this particular case, this woman now needs to make a decision of conscience -- is she prepared to continue to work for the government, be paid by the government, in which case she needs to execute the government's will, or does she feel so strongly about this that she wants to sever her employment with the government ...?
That is exactly the issue here. And that's exactly the right answer.

That we have so many people running for president who pretend not to understand  this, and who would not have the courage of this 'religious freedom' conviction if the belief-holder wasn't a Christian, and wasn't complaining about same sex marriage, is frightening.