Kim Davis, a clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, has been dominating the news cycle all week with her stalwart refusal to do her job. Davis, who objects to same-sex marriage, has not been allowing her office to issue licenses to same-sex couples, claiming her personal religious belief about other people’s relationships should trump the law of the land. Even though the Supreme Court has rejected her argument, Davis remains defiant, and on Thursday she was jailed for her actions.
This puts the Republican presidential candidates – all one billion of them – in a sticky situation. On the one hand, it’s unwise to be seen supporting someone who is clearly destined to be a historical villain – the George Wallace of the gay civil rights era. On the other hand, you need those evangelical voters who don’t know, or don’t care, that future generations will see them as irredeemable bigots. Here are some of the ways conservatives are handling the situation, ranked roughly from most irrational to least.
Go full apocalyptic.
Mike Huckabee, who is running more for the evangelical speaker circuit than for president, got a headful of steam, apparently believing it’s better to destroy the rule of law than let gay couples legally marry. “When people of conviction fight for what’s right they often pay a price, but if they don’t and we surrender, we will pay a far greater price for bowing to the false God of judicial supremacy,” he railed, claiming that the Supreme Court has no authority at all over these matters. “Government is not God. No man – and certainly no unelected lawyer – has the right to redefine the laws of nature or of nature’s God.”
Since God isn’t exactly coming off his cloud telling us what to do here, I guess we’ll just have to take Huckabee’s word on it.
Declare that imposing your beliefs by fiat is “religious liberty.”
“The United States didn’t create religious liberty. Religious liberty created the United States of America,” Bobby Jindal said in a lofty statement. “This is an essential freedom and an essential right and I don’t think you give up this right by simply taking a job.”
Lovely words, but also nonsense. Davis is not supporting religious freedom. By using her power as county clerk to force her religious views on gay couples, she is denying them their religious freedom. What she is doing is about as straightforward as religious oppression gets.
Rand Paul, whose favorite rhetorical strategy is “college freshman blowhard,” deflected the question by getting tediously libertarian about it. “I think one way to get around the whole idea of what the Supreme Court is forcing on the states is for states just to get out of the business of giving out licenses,” he argued. “And anybody can make a contract. And then if you want a marriage contract you go to a church. And so I’ve often said we could have gotten around all of this also in the sense that I do believe everybody has a right to a contract.”
Got it. So instead of letting gay couples have marriage licenses, ban marriage for everyone except couples rich enough to hire lawyers to draft individualized contracts. Rand Paul: still convinced he’s the smartest guy in the room.’