By Victoria Venable
Elm Staff Writer
When the landmark Supreme Court Of The United States ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges made same-sex marriage legal in the United States, millions of Americans celebrated. At the same time millions of Americans prepared for war, as they viewed this latest court ruling as an attack on their own rights. The conflict between religious freedoms and marriage equality is not a new one for the American climate and as the rights of the LGBTQA community broaden, the arena for conflict has only grown.
While couples around the country were finally exercising their right to express their love through marriage, somewhere in Rowan County Kentucky Kim Davis, a county clerk was preparing to protect her religious freedoms. As county clerk Davis was one of the first gatekeepers of marriage licenses in the office. In what she describes as “under God’s authority,” Davis denied numerous same-sex couples the right to marriage licenses, according to the Associated Press. All eyes turned to the the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky as they filed a contempt motion against Davis for “violating a definite and specific order.” Kim Davis would be incarcerated on Sept. 3rd.
In response to the conflict, same-sex couples and their supporters have trended the hashtag “#DoYourJob and protested outside the county courthouse. Apostolic Christians, like Davis, are among those who feel that their Christian values and religious rights are threatened by the expansion of marriage equality, according to The Washington Post. In response, libertarians and liberals argue that the separation of church and state guarantees that laws will be made without bias to any particular religion.
So, where is the line between separation of church and state and the freedom of religion? An American’s religious freedom allows them to practice their religion of their choice without persecution, but it does not allow them to hinder the rights of other Americans in the name of religion. To Davis’ claim that the state policy requiring her office to issue licenses to same-sex couples “substantially burdens” her religious freedom rights, I remind her that she has a right to practice her religion, not a right to impose it on others. She has a right to safely believe in whatever greater being she chooses, not a right to persecute other Americans. She has a right to perform whatever religious rituals she pleases at her own wedding, not a right to prevent the marriage of others.
The Pandora’s box of complex questions of rights and conflicting ideologies has been opened. This will not be the last case that will challenge the right to same-sex marriage. People will continue to try to limit the rights of others in order to protect their own rights. I just ask that we remember when you view someone’s marriage as a violation of your religious freedom, you are viewing your personal liberties as more important than their personal liberties.