Saturday, September 05, 2015

Kim Davis, metaphysics, and the public square

I don't need to link to them. You can find them everywhere--in the blogosphere, among the pundits, on your Facebook feed. Some friends you are surprised at, too. Even people who said that Obergefell was a disastrously wrong decision, even people who oppose homosexual "marriage" (some of them). Now Kim Davis, Kentucky county clerk, has actually acted on the premise that Obergefell was a lawless, made-up, unconstitutional farce, that marriage literally cannot exist between two men or two women, and these people are shocked, shocked to find a person who stands on principle against a court order. Now she has allegedly placed herself against "the rule of law," as though Obergefell had anything whatsoever to do with the rule of law. As though the postmodern, lawless bloviatings of Justice Kennedy were not as far as possible from the rule of law. And then the smug talk: If she won't "do her job" she should resign. Should, mind you. Not just could resign. Not, "resigning would be an option." No, according to these people, she should resign. It's her duty. She must make way for others who will issue licenses to two men to carry out their ersatz unions and give them the name of marriage.

What is all of this? Is it not clear that Kim Davis is being consistent--legally, morally, and metaphysically? If Obergefell is a lawless farce, then Kentucky's marriage protection amendment is the law, and Kim Davis, unlike the Supreme Court, is actually upholding the rule of law. If homosexual unions are not only immoral but also metaphysically unable to be marriages--yes, even civil marriages--then to refuse to give them the name of marriage, as an official of the state of Kentucky, is simply to refuse to lie about reality. It is faithfully to carry out the duties of a clerk whose job it is to give out real marriage licenses.

At this point, it seems that no reductio will do, since homosexual "marriage" is already a reductio. But think: Would it make sense to say that she must resign if she were ordered to call a union between a man and a sheep a marriage and refused? Would it make sense to say that she must resign if she were ordered to call a union between a woman and a tree a marriage and refused?

What it comes to is that such simple-minded thunderings against Kim Davis are nominalist to their core, and in two ways. First, those who say such things are being nominalists about marriage, and by extension, about everything on which the positive law touches. Apparently, if the Supreme Court (whom they absurdly claim to be capable of making law) or some legislature were to declare that the value of pi is three, then everyone would be obliged, in all legal transactions, to treat the value of pi as three, whatever the consequences. If SCOTUS or a legislature (and SCOTUS wins if it disagrees with a legislature, just so you know the rules) were to declare an amoeba to be a person, entitled to all the legal protections of the 14th amendment, then all public officials would be in duty bound to treat it as such--to make out adoption papers for amoebae, to consider their best interests in legal proceedings, to consider an amoeba equal in value to a child, or to quit if they won't "do their job" and help those amoebae to their personhood rights.

And here's an interesting thought experiment: Suppose that SCOTUS were to declare that parents have a 14th amendment right to have their children up to one year old post-birth killed, that such children are not persons, does it then become the case that they are not persons? Must the police and other officials all cease to prosecute those who kill children under one year, or else resign in favor of those who will cease to prosecute? Must the police hold back any person who attempts to rescue an 11-month-old as his father prepares to throw him off a bridge? After all, SCOTUS has spoken on a matter of metaphysics, and it is now the LAW OF THE LAND that an 11-month-old is not a person. If not prepared to abide by the LAW OF THE LAND, the police must all quit their jobs. They must move aside and make way for those who will protect the killers of these new non-persons rather than protecting the (supposed) non-persons.

You see, society cannot afford radical nominalism in practice. Sure, there are some perfectly legitimate legal fictions. One can even say that in a sense adoption is a legal fiction. Those adopting are declared to be the child's parents when they have no biological connection to him. And there are some rules that are arbitrary matters of prudence and even aesthetics. How far back from the street must buildings be constructed in the downtown area? But we cannot run a society if everything, every matter of fact, every truth and falsehood, every matter of nature, is treated as if it is subject to the whims of positive law or court order. Nature will have her revenge. If you declare pi equal to three and act accordingly, you're going to have some funny-shaped train wheels.

Once we admit that you cannot create reality in all areas by judicial or legislative fiat, the question arises whether marriage, civil marriage, is one of the things that is just a matter of legal fiat. Is it just like the driving or voting age--last year it was one thing, this year it's another? Or is it more like the value of pi? Or like personhood? Well, it won't surprise my readers that I think civil marriage has an essence, a real nature, and that male-male and female-female relationships don't fall within that nature, any more than human-animal relationships fall within it. (And frankly, I don't give a plug nickel if someone says, "Gasp!" [Swoon, faint!] "Lydia McGrew made some kind of comparison between homosexuality and bestiality! How insensitive!" Yep. Very. Moving on...)

The point is that some things really do have natures, and marriage is one of them. To say that homosexual marriage ("marriage") is now THE LAW OF THE LAND is to assume without argument that civil marriage is so malleable that SCOTUS can just wave its magic wand, abracadabra, and now two men or two women really can be married to one another, and therefore Kim Davis needs to get with the program or move aside for someone else who will. If one disagrees with that metaphysical assessment, one will have a different assessment of Kim Davis. Kim Davis was being told by a judge to lie about the reality of marriage, which wasn't part of the job description she was elected to fulfill. Therefore, she isn't required either to lie about marriage or resign.

There is a second way in which the condemnation of Kim Davis, the smirking or pompous insistence that she must "do her job or resign," is nominalist, and that concerns the nature of jobs. Is there nothing like at least a quasi-essence of being a doctor, a policeman, or even a county clerk? Let's go back to the example of the 11-month-old declared by a court to be a non-person. What does it mean to be a policeman? All the more so if you signed up to be a policeman before this court order came down, the nature of the job as both you and society understood it involved protecting babies from being thrown off of bridges by their parents, not facilitating the baby-throwing. So if the police force decides to ignore the court's evil and insane redefinition of the child as a non-person and stop the baby-thrower, those police are not only doing the right thing but also, to coin a word, the policeman-y thing. Suppose that SCOTUS declares it to be a violation of 14th amendment rights to refuse to let registered sex offenders adopt. (I owe this example to David Bradshaw.) If an adoption officer nonetheless refuses to issue adoption papers to a registered sex offender, he's doing his job. It's utterly backwards to say that he's not doing his job. His job includes protecting children and seeking their best interests, not turning them over to sex offenders. If a doctor refuses to refer someone for an abortion or refuses to administer a lethal injection, he's being a real doctor. Will the people who condemn Kim Davis say the same about doctors in Australia who refuse to be complicit in abortion? Because now being complicit in abortion "is their job"? The medical association of Canada appears poised to require all doctors there to administer lethal injections for suicide or refer to those who will. Will that then become "part of their job"? Whence comes this idea that there is nothing that it means to fill a particular role in society? And how far could this be taken? If one fine year the Canadian Medical Association (or the American Medical Association) requires all doctors, as a condition of licensing, to have sex with their patients as therapy, will that also become part of the job? To torture some patients at the behest of others who are deemed to own them? To run about naked in the streets as a symbol of something or other? Can absolutely anything be made "part of the job"--part of any job, anywhere, any time?

One might think that the position of county clerk is not a good candidate for a job with an essence. But, given that it involves certifying civil marriages, which do have an essence, the possibility arises that the job of county clerk itself is more than just a sheer creature of positive law.

See, here's the thing: In order for society to function--at all, much less well--we need good people doing a good job at good jobs. If all or even most of the important jobs in society, the jobs that keep things running, are deeply corrupted, literally defined in such a way that to fill them you are required to be complicit in grave evil, and if it is literally a duty to quit all such jobs if you refuse to be complicit in grave evil, then society is going to collapse. Slowly or quickly, though the speed seems to be picking up. Do we really want all our doctors to be murderers, our teachers to be corrupters of the youth, and our minor public officials to be liars about the nature of reality? Keep on telling all the good people, all the people with a noble conception of their jobs, that they have a duty either to do evil or to quit and that's exactly what you'll get.

Since most of these jobs, when society was functioning better, were not defined in such a horrible way but were understood to be jobs one could take pride in, jobs that a good person could fill with a good conscience, it is therefore an honorable act, an attempt to hold back the collapse of human civilization, to continue to fulfill those roles in their honorable senses rather than either quit or be complicit in grave evil. It remains a prudential question whether that is the best course to take for any particular person in any particular situations. One can imagine situations where one might be able to spend one's energy better in some other way. But to say that one must always resign when one has conscientious objections to the newly declared "duties" of one's job is to say that we have to give up all of the important roles in society to people who are willing to do evil. I see no such principle anywhere--not in Scripture, not in tradition, not in reason. In fact, if there were enough people willing to refuse the corruption of their professions (see my above example about a unified police force), a lot of good could be done. In this case, if we had enough Kim Davises, enough staunch state governors, and enough deputies who refused to put any of them in prison, then we'd have a lot fewer lies told about sodomite simulacra of marriage and maybe even an outpouring of honorable self-government in America, all of which would be a good thing.

The idea of staying in a job and trying to carry it out according to the earlier, nobler conception of it on the basis of which you entered the profession has its difficulties. It is particularly difficult in the case of a position like that of federal judge. On an originalist understanding, the job of a federal judge is to "say what the law means" and apply it to concrete cases in accordance with that original meaning. I don't mean to introduce a huge philosophy of law debate, but it should be clear that, on that understanding of the job (which is not new), there might simply be an evil, unjust statutory law, duly passed by the relevant legislative body, which one would be called upon to apply to some concrete case. When that is the job and always has been--saying what the law means and applying it--there is far less room for remaining in the job while refusing to abet evil, if the people making some positive law one is called upon to interpret and apply become bound and determined to do evil. One might, however, be able to recuse oneself merely from particular cases, in that case, while staying on the job to prevent interpretive liars on the other side from striking down good laws. But there are a great many important jobs that aren't in any way limited to expounding other people's laws. Even a family law judge, for example, usually has as his mandate to do what is "in the best interests of the child," which obviously has much wider ramifications.

I've argued that the claim that Kim Davis has a duty either to issue homosexual "marriage" licenses or to resign is nominalist in two ways--as regards the nature of the institution of marriage and as regards the nature of her job. A resistance to this sort of nominalism is applicable in a variety of legal contexts. In Kim Davis's case, it is not (in my view) actually true to say that she is breaking the law (for the reasons mentioned above concerning the lawlessness of Obergefell and the most recent relevant law in Kentucky), though she is committing civil disobedience in the sense that she is defying a court order.

But the recognition that both things and jobs have essences may in other scenarios lead a person in a private or public job actually to ignore or disobey a positive law, passed by the legislature or other civil authority. A legislature could enact homosexual "marriage" or any of the absurd and wicked things mentioned above--adoption rights for sex offenders, a requirement for doctors to perform or refer for abortion, and so forth. In this latter case an interesting question arises concerning public civil servants: When are they carrying out their jobs within the legal system in which they originally took office, and when do they cross over into using their position in a more or less revolutionary or subversive way to undermine or counteract a corrupt system that has emerged subsequently? Imagine, for example, a railroad official who altered documents somehow in Nazi Germany so that trains would go somewhere other than Auschwitz and so that the prisoners might be rescued. I have no idea whether such a thing would even have been possible, but there is an obvious sense in which such a person is working against "the system" as it has come to be, secretly using his authority within the system. On the other hand, if we imagine the "rebellious" local police force pictured above that thumbs its collective nose at the courts and goes on stopping parents who wish to fling their children off of cliffs, that does not seem to me like even a remotely subversive act. Nor does it seem like a revolutionary behavior for a doctor quietly to go on taking out tonsils and treating pneumonia while saying, "No," when asked to perform or refer for abortion. Where precisely the difference lies (does it have anything to do with forging papers in one case but not in the others?) I'm not entirely prepared to say. My point here is merely that opposition to an attempt to twist one's job to the service of evil may take a variety of forms, and legal geeks may have fun (rather grim fun) sorting them out from one another.

Anyone who cares about truth and reality should care about Kim Davis's case. Anyone who cares about the fundamental nature of government and the polis has that much more reason to care about her case. And anyone who thinks that no one sane will be called to suffer in the culture war that is now upon us should look at her case and wake up before it is too late and he finds that he has moved, almost without realizing he was moving, to the wrong side.

I close with some well-chosen words from my Internet friend Jeff Culbreath, who wrote them on Facebook and gave me permission to use them:

There are well-intentioned people who oppose same-sex "marriage", and who recognize that Obergefell was lawless and unconstitutional, but who nevertheless hold that Kim Davis should submit and issue faux marriage licenses anyway because the SCOTUS ruling is now "the law of the land." 
In Catholic moral theology, it is not enough to avoid committing a specific sin - let's say, the sin of entering into a pretend marriage to gain public acceptance for one's immoral acts. One must also avoid being an "accessory to another's sin". To be an accessory to another's sin is to commit a sin. Traditionally, there are nine ways to be an accessory to another's sin:
 I. By counsel
II. By command
III. By consent
IV. By provocation
V. By praise or flattery
VI. By concealment
VII. By partaking
VIII. By silence
IX. By defense of the ill done
 If Kim Davis were to issue same-sex "marriage" licenses, she would become an accessory by counsel, command, and consent. Therefore it is unjust for any employer -- particularly a government employer -- to demand this of her or of any employee. She has every right to resist this injustice in precisely the way she has. 

There is another reason for her not to resign, and that is simply to prevent her office from being complicit in evil acts to the best of her ability. In so doing she is doing what we are all obliged to do: advance and preserve the goodness in the world. 

A final reason for her not to resign is to bring attention to the appalling consequences of Obergefell: Christians who are willing to live by their traditional beliefs are now excluded from government employment in this capacity. This realization should have the effect of shocking Americans out of their complacency.


steve said...

In many cases, I think we have to peel away layers of ignorance:

i) Many critics of Kim Davis seem to be unaware of the fact that both public and private employers are required by law (Title 7 Civil Rights Act, state RFRAs) to provide reasonable accommodations to conscientious religious objections.

ii) Likewise, many critics seems to be unaware of the fact that judicial supremacy is a hotly contested legal theory. It's not in the Constitution. It's anti-democratic. It violates the balance of powers.

By the same token, they seem to be unaware of the fact that judicial review is not in the Constitution. And it, too, is controversial.

iii) Many of them seem to be unaware of the fact (as you point out) that many states, including Kentucky, have laws banning homosexual marriage. This isn't just her personal religious crusade.

steve said...

I suspect there are some Christians who agree with Davis's action on the merits, but disagree on tactical and strategic grounds. They think our best bet is to get a conservative president elected next year. If he serves two terms, he has a chance to replace 2-4 aging Supreme Court Justices. If, by that action, he can create a solid conservative majority on the bench, then we'll be in a position to roll back a lot of things, as well as block new threats.

I suspect they think the Davis controversy is a distraction. It makes it harder for conservatives to win. That we need to avoid squandering a long-term opportunity for a short-term Pyrrhic victory. Not to mention that we probably can't win it in the way Davis has framed the debate.

Next year is our last, best chance to change the Supreme Court. We won't have another chance like that for a generation if a Democrat is elected.

We can hold off a year and see how the election turns out. If we lose anyway, then we will have to consider fallback positions.

Even more seriously, they might be concerned that if we do win, the Davis argument would backfire. If we defend her, liberals can use that as an excuse to flout conservative judicial rulings.

I'm not saying I necessarily agree with those objections. I'm saying those are principled objections which one has to address. By way of potential counterobjections:

i) Should we put all our eggs in one basket?

ii) Is there something to be said for resisting on multiple fronts? Cumulative gains. Pushback in many directions.

iii) We do need to challenge the notion that the judiciary has unlimited authority.

iv) Divided gov't won't be enough to roll back the liberal agenda. Capturing SCOTUS is not enough. It really takes control of all three branches.

v) The conservative position is not that we can disregard judicial rulings we dislike. That's a caricature.

Rather, it concerns the proper jurisdiction of the courts as well as rulings that have no basis in law.

steve said...

Liberal social engineers resort to the judiciary for two reasons:

i) The more obvious is that because their objectives lack popular support, they can't get what they want through the democratic process.

ii) In addition, statutory law is too mutable to lock in their gains. Statutes can be repealed.

If, however, they can get the Supreme Court to declare that a supposed right is enshrined in the Constitution, then that confers permanency in the newfound right.

Yet their tactic is contradictory, for it depends on the whim of the court, which is even more mutable than statutory law.

Lydia McGrew said...

You are right about all the layers of confusion and ignorance, Steve. I saw a headline that indicated that Huckabee, of all people, is trying to peel back some of those layers of ignorance about "violating the law."

The strategic concerns must be extremely sharply separated from the sweeping claims that she "has to do her job or quit" or "can't disobey a law just because she dislikes it" and so forth. The latter are incredibly important _errors_ about the nature of law, jobs, civics, and so forth. And actually, they would be such errors even if the problem had arisen through statutory law rather than through judicial overreach, as I discuss in the post.

Several answers to such objections can be given, some in addition to those you have raised. Jeff Culbreath has pointed out that she is preventing her office from doing evil. This is a simple but powerful point that I think should strike conservatives powerfully: Do we really believe that endorsing homosexual unions is evil? If so, shouldn't we applaud someone who has the capacity and is suffering hardship to prevent the office that operates under her own authority from participating in this evil?

That is related to the point that I made in the post about _jobs_. It would be good if conservatives could come to understand the point: We don't actually want everybody who does all our governing and other important jobs (police, doctors, counselors, teachers, etc.) to be required as a condition of holding the job to endorse evil. Therefore we shouldn't rush to say that people should, even as a strategic matter, quit any previously legitimate job rather than resisting its redefinition.

Finally, I have seen only one person so far--a commentator on my own thread at W4, and that (it appears) only because of pushback I gave him--make any distinction at all between purely strategic considerations and the silly shibboleths of someone like Rod Dreher (who mashes them up all together) about "the law of the land" and such nonsense. I have not yet seen anyone but that one commentator who is willing to consider the proposition that we should _admire_ Kim Davis while at the same time questioning the prudential or strategic utility of her actions.

Such a person's stance could be like my stance concerning Joe Scheidler and other people who have gone to jail for blocking abortion clinic entrances.

But that is not what we are seeing. Or not what I'm seeing. What I'm seeing instead is condemnation of Kim Davis in which, at most, strategic considerations are mashed up with extremely dangerous false civics principles and a contempt for her actions as completely wrong-headed.

Tony M said...

I suspect there are some Christians who agree with Davis's action on the merits, but disagree on tactical and strategic grounds....

I suspect they think the Davis controversy is a distraction. It makes it harder for conservatives to win...

I'm not saying I necessarily agree with those objections. I'm saying those are principled objections which one has to address. By way of potential counterobjections:

Fair enough, Steve. To object to Davis's approach on grounds of practical outcomes is not the same as objecting as flouting "the law of the land".

But the people who think Davis might be hurting our "best chance" to elect a good president, or to get good SC justices, or to whatever along those lines, should ALSO make it clear that they realize these are no better than probable arguments. The results pathways they are proposing in these analyses are really no more than plausible, they are nothing like certain. So, they shouldn't be offering them as if they were certain, should they? Where do they get off being upset, being offended, being enraged, by Davis indicating (by her behavior) that her estimation of the chances is different? Why isn't it hubris for them to assume that their own "probable outcome" analysis is so darn obviously true, so overwhelmingly convincing, that a person who disagrees is ipso facto being unreasonable? For that's what some of them are doing.

As you and Lydia show, each and every one of the probable arguments "this is going to make things worse in the long run" has a counter-argument, and weighing them ends up being an exercise in political prudence - which even people of good will hold in vastly different levels of capability. And with vastly different experiences to bring to the table of weighing factors.

By and large, EVERYTHING that is tried that doesn't succeed "makes things worse", except that not trying is guaranteed to make things worse.

And in any case, if there is a valid sense that Davis is doing exactly what God wants of her, and doing anything ELSE would be rejecting God's will for her, then it doesn't matter that what she is doing might be making it harder to elect a good President, to get good SC justices, etc, she ought to do it anyway. There are some times when political expediency is not the ultimate rationale for an action.

Lydia McGrew said...

I think what strategists need to recognize is that everything is not strategy. There needs to be room for heroism and for open declaration of the truth. If we gauge everything according to strategy, and if our notion of "strategy" is always, "Don't rock the boat," then we will never have any heroes or open speakers, and we will strategize ourselves directly into secondhand citizenship.

Ironically, this is poor strategy. No good general would agree that the best strategy is always indirect, secret, or undercover.

I think some Christians are so narrowly focused on strategy that they can't recognize a trumpet call when it comes. Kim Davis's action is definitely a trumpet call.

steve said...

“Now explain how you as Councillor of England can obstruct those measures for the sake of your own, private, conscience,” Cardinal Wolsey challenges More, furious at his refusal to support the King’s proposed divorce. More’s answer is simple: “When statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by a short route to chaos.”

It is in being true to the higher law, even when it seems utterly inexpedient and practically irrational, that More proves most true to himself: “When a man takes an oath, Meg, he’s holding his own self in his own hands. Like water. And if he opens his fingers then¯he needn’t hope to find himself again. Some men aren’t capable of this, but I’d be loathe to think your father one of them.”

John said...

The last time Republicans were handed government majorities, the conservative agenda was propelled forward, a conquering juggernaut--right? If you think so, go back and check this history of the Bush years. It's frankly scary to trust Republicans to fix this, or anything--however large their majority advantage. If Roe v. Wade still stands, I don't have confidence in any nine black robes to undo Obergefell.

Lydia, you have nailed it. I appreciate your analysis and have been helped by it.

Lydia McGrew said...

Thanks, John. Like you, I fear that the Republicans, particularly the establishment Republicans, are a bruised reed. The idea of not rocking the boat so that maybe we can get a Republican President so that maybe we can change the composition of the court has been held out for decades and has been the "green light that day by day recedes before us." Indeed, the entirety of my politically aware life has been _consumed_ by that aim. If it couldn't happen when the Republicans had much better will (say, in the 80's) it is that much less likely to happen now. Which is not to say not to vote for a good candidate. I deeply hope that Cruz wins the nomination. I could support him I think wholeheartedly. It is, however, to say that we should _never_ listen again to claims that we should just keep quiet, not look bad, not do anything controversial, and above all vote Republican (even for candidates that make us hold our noses) so as not to mess up our chance at that ever-elusive goal. At this point we have to do the right thing *now*, and that includes supporting Kim Davis vocally.

Steve, it is so true: Many things about Thomas More (at least as Bolt portrays him) are startlingly applicable to Kim Davis's case, including the fact that he would not approve of a marriage. It's therefore all the more bizarre that I actually saw one blogger attempting to use his "give the devil the benefit of the law" comment to _oppose_ Kim Davis. It was so tone-deaf, given the actual reason for More's downfall, that it was almost humorous.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"I deeply hope that Cruz wins the nomination."

I would likewise be delighted.

I also appreciate your vigorous defense of Davis's refusal to resign as being the most God honoring response.

John Howard said...

I totally agree! I wrote a diary on Kim Davis Is Doing Her Job, and Patrick left a comment linking to this.

I agree Kim Davis is right to apply her official personal judgment that same sex couples are not eligible, because they do not have the right to procreate, which as everyone knows is the nature of marriage. In his dissent, Roberts went through the string of cases that established that marriage is the right to procreate. (People actually tell me that because it was in a dissent, it's irrelevant and wrong!) The majority, following all the arguments put forth and looking at the state of the laws, treated same sex couples like infertile couples, meaning, they assumed same sex couples have a right to procreate but are simply unable. That's a false assumption, learned from Life Of Brian. People only have a right to procreate as the sex they were born, with someone of the other sex. Same sex couples don't have a right to procreate. They should have treated them like siblings and other couples that don't have a right to procreate. But they didn't because procreating with the same sex, or as the non birth sex, is not prohibited like incest is.

So what we need to do is prohibit creating a person any way other than joining a sperm of a male and egg of a female, prescribe the effect of marriage as approving and allowing the couple to procreate together, and void all same sex marriages. Then Kim can go home, knowing that even if Obama doesn't sign it, the Republican will, and the licenses she authorizes will be void in 2017.

Lydia McGrew said...

The Kentucky law was perfectly valid and perfectly clear. If a _legislative_ enactment makes homosexual "marriage" licenses void, then many of them in many states are void, including in Kentucky. A new law--whether state or federal--can't restrict marriage to heterosexual couples any more clearly than the many existing state laws.

The problem is that the SCOTUS will do its little "striking down" thing again and again against any such law, state or federal, and until we get enough officials with the wisdom and gumption to say, "The Supreme Court has made its ruling, now let them enforce it" we will have everybody else bowing to such rulings and even _calling_ them "the law" and "the law of the land" as is happening right now.

In practical terms, Kim Davis's best hope of getting out of jail is for the Kentucky legislature to pass some law or other that creates a mechanism for couples to receive marriage licenses that does not require the signature of the county clerk. There are many such possibilities (e.g., a deputy's signature could be declared sufficient if the main clerk had conscientious objections), and there is no doubt the KY legislature will pass one or the other of them. The thing that is unfortunate about _that_ is that probably the state legislature will pass such a conscience clause or alternative method for receiving the license *in the context of* actively incorporating same-sex "marriage" into their state laws, in deference to the SCOTUS ruling. I think legislators of good conscience should refuse to do that, but I fear the alternatives for people like Kim Davis will be tied to new state laws of that kind. That isn't necessary. Alternative methods for obtaining licenses could be written into law while saying nothing about recognizing same-sex unions.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

I'd be willing to bet that in 50 years -- or perhaps even 20 years --, Kim Davis and that tinpot Elmer Gantry, Mike Huckabee, will be viewed the same way we view Orval Faubus and George Wallace today. Furthermore, the arguments that Kim Davis and her supporters -- you included -- make are remarkably similar to those made by opponents of school integration and interracial marriage in the past.

Lydia McGrew said...

"Remarkably similar" in the sense of "completely different"? Yeah, that would be about right.

One wonders whether defenders of the homosexual agenda ever wake up in the middle of the night and think, "Wow, am I ever insulting black people. I'm comparing just being a black person to engaging in disgusting, unnatural sex acts. I'm comparing a black person's wanting to marry a white person to two men's wanting to have the blessing of the state put upon their unnatural sexual relationship. All the decent black people out there should want to punch me in the nose for making that comparison."

Nah, probably not.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

What is the "homosexual agenda" and where can I get a copy?

I wasn't aware that your personal disgust was a principled moral, ethical, or philosophical basis for denying someone their rights. What else disgusts you that I should know about?

Lydia McGrew said...

That's probably the last worthless, contentless comment of yours I will publish, just so you don't waste too much of your no doubt valuable time.

It isn't my personal disgust. It's the disgust of most of the human race throughout history, as a indicator of the natural use of the human organs. The word "disgusting" was intended to be an objective statement about the nature of the acts. They are inherently such as to disgust all rational human beings whose perceptions of the order of nature and the body have not been corrupted. But you knew that that was my meaning, of course.

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

Excellent, insightful, and brave. I just wanted to thank you.