The battle for same-sex marriage has raged on for several decades now. For those who are pro-gay marriage and anti-gay marriage, this battle has been primarily motivated by a desire to see their personal beliefs triumph over the opposing side’s.
Those who support marriage equality saw their greatest victory last June when the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. Yet, the victory still has not ended the battle for each sides’ personal vindication.
After the Supreme Court’s decision, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to any couple in her jurisdiction of Rowan County, weather they were same-sex or opposite-sex, as a means of protesting the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage. Davis’ protest led to a lawsuit against her on July 1 by four different couples: two of the opposite sex and two of the same sex.
U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning presided over the two hearings held against her on July 13 and 20. During the hearings, Davis argued that under the First Amendment, she had the right as a devout Christian to deny marriage licenses to same- sex couples as it conflicted with her religious beliefs. However, on Aug. 12, Bunning ordered Davis to issue the marriage licenses to all couples who wished to receive them.
Davis attempted to get the injunction appealed, but all she was able to achieve was a two-week stay, which was issued on Aug. 17. The clerk once again refused to give out the licenses on Sept. 1, which led to a contempt hearing on Sept. 3.
At the hearing, Davis was taken into custody for violating the orders of the judge, where she would be kept until she agreed to comply and give out the licenses. However, Bunning later offered release if Davis simply agreed to allow the five deputy clerks to give out the same-sex marriage licenses. Davis’ lawyer refused the offer on her behalf, claiming that Davis would not compromise her devout Christian beliefs nor allow her deputies to give out the licenses.
Bunning issued this statement up on Davis’ arrest: “The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order…If you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that’s what potentially causes problems.”
Davis’ imprisonment was not without its detractors, though, as several Republican figures declared their support for her, even though Davis is ironically a Democrat. Speaking against the arrest, Texas Senator Ted Cruz said, “Today, judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny.”
There was also a parade of supporters who stood outside the Rowan County Courthouse to support Davis for standing up for her religious beliefs against same-sex marriage. Those supporters, though, were met by a storm of protesters who vilified Davis for refusing to do her job because of her own personal prejudice.
Once again, it has come down to two opposing sides trying to impose their will on the other rather than trying to treat each other with mutual respect. That is the real problem here. It is not about religious belief. It is not about whether or not same- sex couples should marry, nor is it even about whether or not Davis should have gone to jail.
The story of Davis boils down to the fact that she was so set in her ways that she would dishonor the legal system she is supposed to uphold as well as get herself incarcerated so she did not have to show tolerance to people who do not share her belief system.
I’m not saying that everyone has to love and embrace same-sex marriage with open arms, as that would be completely unreasonable. Essentially, what I’m saying is that everyone should be tolerant.
Tolerance is defined as “the ability or willingness to [deal with] something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with,” according to the Oxford Dictionary. Everyone does not have to agree that same-sex marriage should be legal, but that does not give anyone the right to completely disrespect the laws of the court just because of their opposition to it. This whole case is a complete waste of time for everyone involved and worst of all, it is preventing other cases from being taken care of.
The only way that the same-sex marriage battle can truly end is when both sides of the argument decide to respect each other’s beliefs and let everyone live their own lives, however they want to live them. Until then, the story of Davis will be a tale we will likely see told again and again as the battle rages on.