Kay Davis and Separation of church and State

Kim Davis is an interesting case as a political activist.  The issue involved — gay marriage — is obviously a very divisive one in the U.S. When presidential candidates step out and support someone like that, it is evident that Davis wasn’t just speaking or acting solely for herself.  She obviously knew what the consequences of her act would be. She should have known she was going to jail, and she was willing to go that far to make her point.  She became an icon of the conservative right on gay marriage, even a hero in their eyes.

Activists on the left who cry that she is obligated to uphold the constitution, and that her religious cherry-picked views (three divorces, etc.) don’t belong in a state institution, fail to recognize political civil disobedience being engaged in a cause that has substantial public support.  Civil disobedience certainly is no stranger to the left, and it seems that a more accurate perspective would be a political one, not a legal or religious one.  Kim Davis ought to be applauded for using her position to protest against a law that she didn’t like.  The Left could take some lessons from this. I don’t think her religious views matter or that any legal reason matters.  This was civil disobedience, plain and simple.  The fact is that she believes that the tradition of marriage is somehow the sacrosanct heterosexual ceremony that history shows it to have been up until now, and she believes it to be proprietary, to be held exclusively by heterosexuals.  That’s her opinion and she’s sticking to it.  Conservatives bring forward all their arguments for why they believe gay marriage is inappropriate, but the simple fact is that they are guarding a long-standing tradition that they do not want to give up.  That’s what conservativism is all about.  Keep the status quo.  Don’t change anything.

I don’t support the opinions of Kay Davis.  But I wouldn’t call her dumb, or an asshole, or any of the other blistering names she’s been called.  You can agree or not agree with her, but I do support her right to express her political opinions in whatever manner she sees fit.   If gays want to entangle themselves in all that legal bullshit associated with formal marriage, I could care less.  And since the Supreme Court has issued a ruling on it, there’s nothing more to say.  But I do applaud Kay Davis for standing up for what she believes in.

However, marriage is and has always been throughout history a religious institution.  Marriage is a cultural function, a way of bringing the blessings of both society and God upon the marriage. it has until recently been largely a function of the church, and as such, religious views are deeply entwined in our beliefs about it.   I think the primary problem occurred when the state decided to perform ceremonies and sanction marriage itself.  The merging of church with the state occurred then, not in Kay Davis’ actions, and that’s where the mistake has occurred. The state has no business involving itself in the personal values of its citizens.  It should not be interfering in cultural traditions whatsoever.

Marriage is not a right.  Marriage is something you negotiate.  Marriage is a stamp of approval, whether by God or by Ru Paul, because it goes beyond the simple matter of deciding to live with someone, so it should be sought among those willing to approve it. The matter of gay marriage should be left to whatever institutions, religious or not, are willing to conduct such a ceremony.


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