There are 3,143 counties in the United States.
In each of those counties, a public official is responsible for issuing marriage licenses to those who are legally entitled to them.
As far as I am aware, none of those officials is empowered to deny a marriage license to a couple simply because he or she doesn’t approve of the marriage.
But then there is Kim Davis, the elected Clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky. Claiming religious objections, Ms. Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She even went to jail for a few days rather than carry out her statutory duty. Suddenly, Ms. Davis is a national celebrity, a martyr, a hero, a criminal or whatever — depending on one’s point of view.
We even watched as presidential candidates literally raced to Kentucky to be the first to join Ms. Davis for a photo op outside the jail when she was released.
It was quite a spectacle, and it isn’t over yet.
Religious freedom is important. It is one of the liberties Our America seeks to protect — and even strengthen. That isn’t the issue, despite what too many politicians would have us believe. Ms. Davis has every right to believe whatever it is she believes. But when she is sitting at her taxpayer-funded desk in her taxpayer-funded office in a taxpayer-funded courthouse — collecting her taxpayer-funded salary, she does not have the luxury of impos ing her beliefs on those she is elected and paid to serve — especially when doing so means denying marriage rights that have been confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
It isn’t complicated, and her “disobedience” frankly isn’t worth the attention it has received. All over the nation, every day, public officials carry out responsibilities with which they may not be entirely comfortable. How many gun permits are issued by officials who are anti-gun? How many liquor licenses are handed out by teetotalers? Hundreds, if not thousands, of officials and public employees deal with such “conflicts” every day – – because we live in a nation that is founded on the idea that religious or personal beliefs, while preciously protected, cannot be imposed on the legally-protected freedoms of others. The alternative is tyranny.
Even in the case of marriage equality, while Ms. Davis is having her 15 minutes of fame, state and local officials across the nation are quietly and respectfully adjusting to a new, if long overdue, reality, including taking steps to make it easier for public employees to reconcile their duties with strongly-held beliefs. If Ms. Davis can’t handle the conflict, then she can find another job. No one’s stopping her, and no one is stopping her beliefs.
It’s that simple.
No, this single County Clerk isn’t the issue. The REAL issue is that politicians, including some who want to be President, are using her behavior to promote an anti-liberty social agenda based on the notion that it is OK for government to impose beliefs at the expense of freedom.
This entire episode has reminded me why we created the Our America Initiative in the first place: To fight back against those who use the force of government to erode liberty — through unnecessary laws, overreaching policies and out-of-control spending and taxes.
The millions of Americans who believe government should exist to protect liberty, not destroy it, deserve a voice. Your financial support of the Our America Initiative makes it possible for us to provide that voice.
I hope you will go to Our America today and make a contribution that will help us restore Liberty as the real American value.
Gov. Gary Johnson
P.S. Fair, inclusive presidential debates in 2016 will go a long way toward putting the REAL issues on the agenda. Learn more about our fight for fair debates at FairDebates.com.