Kim Davis is not a hero.
If anything she is a liar for not upholding the oath she took to “. . . faithfully execute, to the best of my ability, the office of county clerk according to law . . .”
Nowhere in the oath does it say that Davis has a right or obligation to hold her religious beliefs higher than the law when executing the duties of her office.
Davis is America’s most famous and/or notorious county clerk for refusing to uphold the law when it comes to the issuance of marriage licenses to same sex couples. She now sits in jail for contempt of court.
Too bad she is a county clerk in Kentucky and not the mayor of San Francisco. If she were, Davis could be lieutenant governor of California instead of a jail inmate.
Gavin Newsom in 2004 as San Francisco’s mayor directed the city-county clerk to break the law and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In less than 30 days, San Francisco issued nearly 4,000 such licenses before California Attorney General Bill Lockyer and various groups sued to stop the practice. The California Supreme Court ultimately voided all of the same-sex marriage licenses that had been issued.
Granted, Newsom complied after a court directed him to do so. But it is absolutely clear that Newsom — like Davis — violated his oath of office. Just like Davis, he chose to pick and choose what laws to enforce and not to enforce as an elected official based on his personal beliefs.
Davis is unfit to be county clerk. Very few people are debating that point.
It is for the same exact reason Newsom is unfit to be lieutenant governor or, if he has his way, governor of California.
There is a reason we have things such as duly elected assemblies that pass laws, courts, and due process. Elected leaders don’t get to pick and choose what laws they want to adhere to and which ones they prefer to ignore.
Arguments that “its God will” or “it’s going to happen whether you like it or not” is exactly what the founding fathers feared would happen if elected leaders were allowed to have king-like powers. It is why checks and balances were created by having a legislative branch, executive branch, and a judicial branch.
Just because you don’t like a legal law or ruling or things aren’t changing fast enough for you or you disagree with laws or the court doesn’t give elected leaders the right to act outside of the law.
Davis was found in contempt of court. She deserved to be locked up for defying a lawful decision by proclaiming she was answering to a higher authority. Her higher authority isn’t necessarily in sync with everyone else’s higher authority. It is why there is a clear separation of church.
The reason it was included in the constitution was not to allow the government to establish an official religion much like the monarchy did by creating the Church of England.
As for Newsom, he was smart enough not to defy a court order.
He does get credit for advancing the issue of equal access to the government version of the institution of marriage and the legal protections it confers on partners.
Davis did exactly what Newsom did when she defied a lawful directive from the State of Kentucky regarding to whom marriage licenses can and can’t be issued to by the government.
She overshot the runway when the court intervened and ignored government’s highest authority when it came to determining constitutionally legal actions when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene and let a lower court order that she issue same sex marriage licenses stand.
Newsom, to his credit, complied with the court’s lawful directive.
That is the only difference between the God-fearing Kentucky county clerk and the political opportunist former mayor of San Francisco who is now California’s lieutenant governor.
We are a nation of laws.
If every elected official based on personal beliefs, religious or otherwise, decided what laws have merit and what laws don’t we would have chaos.
Davis doesn’t deserve to be released from jail until she agrees to enforce legal laws or else resigns her office.
Newsom doesn’t deserve the trust of California voters.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.