|Photo: Timothy D. Easley/AP|
The Richmond Times-Dispatch is among Virginia's most conservative newspapers. Such being the case, it often hawks reactionary Republican talking points, especially in its editorials. Thus, it was a surprise to see the Times-Dispatch commuting political heresy in an editorial that said court clerks who oppose same sex marriage and refuse to do their jobs need to resign. The piece argues that once one takes a position as a public official, personal rights on religious belief and other issues often go out the window. The same, of course, should be true of organizations accepting taxpayer funds: once you take public dollars, your right to discriminate against members of the public must cease (it's a concept lost on Catholic agencies here in Virginia). Here are editorial highlights:
Kim Davis, the county clerk in Rowan County, Ky., is carrying out her own form of massive resistance. Despite a federal court order, she refuses to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. A few other clerks across the country are doing the same.
The clerks claim to be exercising their First Amendment right to religious liberty, just as a few bakers, photographers and others have exercised theirs by declining to provide services for gay weddings. But the two situations are not the same.
Individuals can exercise many rights as private citizens that they cannot exercise as government officials. Teachers, for instance, are free to stand on the street corner on the weekend and urge everyone within hearing distance to accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior. They can’t do the same thing in the public-school classroom.
Religious scruples are a legitimate reason for a church not to perform marriage rites for gay couples. They are not a legitimate grounds for government to deny marriage licenses; the Supreme Court has ruled that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry. Davis cannot turn her own interpretation of Christianity into public policy for Rowan County. If she sincerely believes that abetting gay marriage is an affront to her conscience, then she has only one option left: Quit.
Note the interesting correlation made to Davis' conduct and "massive resistance," one of the most shameful parts of Virginia's history when public schools in some counties were closed rather than allow black students attend. There is a direct correlation between racists and segregationist and folks like Davis who are raising the false cry of "religious liberty" whether or not the godly folk are willing to take a good look at themselves int he mirror.