We have all seen those willful, spoiled children who have the most ridiculous tantrums. They act out in the grocery store over colorful cereal boxes; they fall out in the middle of the shopping malls between the racks of blouses and pencil skirts; they burst into tears at a movie theater; they hurl mashed potatoes in restaurants when they are told no, told to “stop it” or asked sternly about the remaining broccoli florets on their plate.
You see the parents, too. Some are firm, holding their ground. Some are cowering under the pressures of parenthood and public embarrassment. Sometimes, the child truly needs attention or sometimes the parents have simply not adhered to their naptime routine. Whatever the reason, it honestly doesn’t make their behavior acceptable.
And we saw a similar act of childlike Constitutional defiance from Kim Davis, the infamous county clerk from the state “Unbridled Spirit.” Davis was recently held in contempt of court for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. At first, she was taking a stand against the marriage equality movement, but, in an act to potentially level the marriage certificate playing field, she refused to issue licenses to heterosexual couples as well.
An ironic dichotomy evolved when she decided to stop issuing the licenses at all. She started infringing on the constitutional rights of those seeking to participate in the institution she vowed to protect. The couples who wanted to exercise their right to build a home around the traditional make-up of a heterosexual marriage were not afforded the opportunity until after she was taken to jail. It would be funny, if it weren’t so outrageous.
The reason Judge David Bunning made Kim Davis serve time had nothing to do with her stance on the marriage rights of same sex couples. It was her outright defiance towards the law (more formally known as contempt of court) that caused him to bypass fines and sentence her. It is not ok to just decide one day that you will go against a Supreme Court adjudication. The Supreme Court ruling handed down this summer from Obergefell v. Hodges validated marriage equality and institutionalized the right for same-sex couples to be legally married throughout the U.S.
The ruling was controversial one. However, as of June 26, 2015, it is now the law, and nothing and no one should stand against that, least of all someone who holds government office. Kim Davis had two choices: she could have either stepped down or issued the licenses. The prize behind secret curtain number three was (drum roll please) contempt of court and jail time.
After she worked out her issues behind bars, Davis was greeted by conservatives who chose to use her display of disgust for the law as a chance to do some good old-fashioned political grandstanding. Mike Huckabee, one of her biggest supporters, was waiting for her with a gold star and a cookie, offering support and (of course) photo ops. He also mentioned her plight in the GOP Presidential debate this week. She is likely thankful for all of the support she has been given from the right; but, Kim Davis allegedly identifies as a Democrat, which thickens the political plot all the more.
Even with all of the political lines drawn with regard to same sex marriage, this is not simply a conservatives versus liberals issue. This is about equal protection under the law, the Constitution and rulings by the Supreme Court. It is the Supreme Law of the land, and it must prevail—period.
So what is going on now you ask? Davis brought suit to keep from having to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. She recently lost an appeal on a technicality, but she is fighting nevertheless. After returning back to work, she altered marriage licenses by removing her name, which could possibly invalidate the forms and would likely be considered interfering with the court order. Meanwhile, back at the big government ranch in Kentucky, her deputies have mostly agreed to comply and issue the new licenses, probably because if they do not they, too, will be fined or put in jail.
We cannot tolerate those who simply just ignore the rule of law; there must be consequences. Davis’ commitment to her principles is something to be applauded. However, much like a child acting out, her “time out” in jail helped her understand that while her willfulness got the attention she wanted, it did not achieve the desired result. Now, she has an opportunity to think about where she went wrong and–hopefully–make better choices.
Image Credits: WREG