Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Religious Refusals - Kim Davis

Again we see a county clerk, Kim Davis, who has made the news for refusing to grant marriage licenses to gay couples on the grounds that providing a license to them violates her religious commitments.  Here's an article on the clerk.

After the SCOTUS decision, I wrote a blog post on the issue of religious liberty and this very issue, here.    I've since thought more about the issue.  As a country we do make accommodations for religious commitments whenever possible and we should continue to do so.  The question is whether this is one of those instances.

I don't know whether there would have been an easy work around, whether the offended clerk could have easily had someone else issue the licenses, or if that was not possible.  It is ironic that the clerk evidently has been divorced more than once and has no problem ignoring that, but that is a side issue.  It is also clear that folk on both sides of the counter have decided to make this particular instance a test and that the SCOTUS has ordered her to issue the licenses.  If there had been a reasonable work around (which I outlined in my previous post), the clerk has made it impossible to access.

So, here's my new thoughts on the issue.  While we make religious accommodations, there are jobs for which no changes can be made to make it fit the religious objections of a given individual.  For example, I am a pacifist for religious reasons.  While the government did make accommodations for pacifists when there was a draft, there are clearly accommodations that could not be made.  If I were to join the military as an infantryman and then refuse to carry a weapon because using one offended my religious commitments, nobody would argue that I be allowed to go into battle sans weapons, waiting for someone else to shoot their rifle.  The job itself does not fit with my religious sensibilities.  I could not and cannot do it.  It seems that this is the case for this clerk.  The clerk's job includes issuing marriage licenses and she is not empowered to decide whether a given couple meets the criteria to receive one.  If her conscience will not allow her to issue marriage licenses to any who are legally entitled, she must resign or be fired.  It is that simple.