People who are looking for a brief summary of Kim Davis’ role in same sex marriage may be surprised at how comparatively minor her role really was. Gay marriage is the law of the land in the United States. People have been working to make it a reality for song long that it seems like a dream come true that it actually is legally available in the United States. People like Kim Davis appear to have no power at all in the face of the success of the gay rights movement. However, it should be noted that there are still plenty of people like her today, and that it is important to recognize the damage that they can still do, even from their comparatively limited vantage points.
Kim Davis is a government employee, or was when she did first become infamous. Kim Davis was the county clerk of Rowan County in Kentucky. It was her job to sign marriage licenses, among other things. She decided to stage her own veritable protest by not signing the marriage licenses for the gay couples who had recently gotten married, largely because she does not believe that their relationships deserve to be honored in the same way as those of straight couples.
Her miniature protest has made her famous, but it hasn’t had any long-term consequences for anyone but her. Even many of the people who agree with her politics did very little to help her when she was being attacked verbally and in other ways as the word of her actions managed to get out. The fact that the public was overwhelmingly against Kim Davis helps to illustrate just how much of a success the gay rights movement has been, and just how difficult it is going to be for the Kim Davis clerks of the world to try to turn back the clock. They’re going to need to do more than just refuse to sign a few marriage licenses in a way that manages to merit some notice.
Many people have noticed that Kim Davis shouldn’t believe that her protest was going to even stop the gay people in question from getting married. All it did was delay the signing of their marriage licenses, and all of them are married and together today. It should be noted that the act was a political protest to her, and she did not believe that the individual gay people or their marriages mattered very much. She was trying to spread the idea that people like her could randomly decide against doing their job in the name of religious freedom. She was trying to make a political statement.
It seems that whatever political statement that Kim Davis made or tried to make has been dismissed. Gay marriage is the law of the land, and the stigma against being gay only continues to weaken each and every day. Kim Davis’s actions were a case of too little too late for her side.
Many people are interested in learning Pope Francis’ position on gay marriage, especially because he is a very popular pope compared to his predecessor. His predecessor is memorable for all of the worst reasons, and many Catholics are thrilled at the fact that Pope Francis tends to project a much more favorable image of the organization that they hold in such high regard. He has spoken out on the subjects of global poverty and global climate change, making him significantly more liberal than many of the popes that came before him. However, the Catholic Church is still fundamentally a conservative organization, with all that this implies.
One of the reasons why so many people are curious about Pope Francis’ position on gay marriage is the simple fact that he tends to avoid talking about gay marriage at all. He has actively told other members of the Catholic clergy to do the exact same thing, so his position on the subject seems like it is part of a veritable conspiracy of silence. The liberal Catholics and the people who are outside the church can often find themselves with no information to draw on when they are actually looking for his position on the subject of same-sex marriage.
However, no amount of evasion can ultimately keep his views on gay marriage a secret, even though he is actively trying to do so. Pope Francis has defined the family as the fruitful covenant between a man and a woman. He makes no allowance for a covenant that includes two women or two men. Incidentally, he also seems to be excluding child-free people in many of his speeches, as if couples who do not want to have children are deficient, or if they do not constitute a family. Pope Francis has a very pro-natal view of the world, which is going to let out the voluntarily childless and the people who adopt children, including gay people.
Pope Francis is also frequently talking about threats to the family, and the supposed idea that the family is experiencing the sorts of dangers that it never experienced before now. Conservatives know that gay marriage and gay rights are mainstream enough today that they cannot obliquely refer derisively to gay people. They have resorted to code words as a result. All across the board, talking about threats to the traditional family have become code words for how gay people are supposedly threatening the family just for wanting to get married and to have their loving relationships legally recognized. People who talk about this issue in those terms are almost never referring to any other threats to the family, unless they are insulting feminism, abortion rights, or other progressive causes. Pope Francis has done this as well, demonstrating the fact that being more liberal than the last pope is not much of an accomplishment. Pope Francis could explicitly proclaim his support for gay marriage in an historic shift. Instead, he has tried quietly hating gay marriage and has encouraged his followers to do the same.
Now that same-sex marriage is the law of the land in the United States and in many other countries, plenty of people are asking the question: should clergy that refuse to perform same-sex marriages be protected? This question is complicated by the fact that no one asking this question is going to have an unbiased view. The people who try to have an unbiased view and who are arguing in favor of individual rights and religious freedom are going to be supporting the conservatives in practice, even if they do not support them in principle, which is going to polarize the issue even more.
The people who argue that there should be protections in place for the clergy in question are arguing from the standpoint of religious freedom. However, religious freedom is not going to get people off the hook for everything. The people who commit crimes and who say that they did so because their religion warrants such crimes frequently do not receive religious protection, even if that is the angle that their lawyers will try during the trial. The clergy members who do not perform same-sex marriages are going against what the law of the land says and failing to recognize the manner in which laws have changed, which seems to indicate that they have strayed into territory where religious freedom offers no protection.
There is also the fact that plenty of religious people do support gay rights, even if their churches technically do not. Plenty of individual clergy members are fine with same-sex marriage, and they will perform same-sex ceremonies. These people clearly do not believe that their religions are incompatible with the tolerance of gay people, so it seems that the clergy members who do are using their religion as an excuse for their bigotry in practice. It is also important to note that there are plenty of gay religious people as well, which will complicate the situation further.
People often regard religions as being the sorts of institutions that never change. However, this is empirically false. The Church of England once scoffed at the idea of female vicars, and they are now common. Gay vicars were once controversial as well, but this stigma has started to fade away in recent years. The stigma against same-sex marriage in most religions is not the sort of thing that is going to last forever. Society is tolerating LGBT people more, and churches are going to need to change if they have any intention of staying relevant. This trajectory is inevitable, and even many conservatives have given up on trying to hold onto their homophobia. In a generation, many churches are probably going to sweep their history of homophobia under the rug.
However, if clergy are protected from their duty to recognize same-sex marriage, this natural process is going to be circumvented. The churches are going to be frozen in time, and they will not adapt according to the right process. Society should not allow this to happen.
The current state of same-sex marriage is going to look very bright from the perspective of almost anyone who has lived through a good portion of the twentieth century. Even fifteen years ago, many liberals were very cynical about the possibility of gay marriage happening in the future. They would have regarded the idea of same-sex marriage being the law of the land in the United States in the year 2015 as being far too optimistic. Many of them have hopefully learned from this experience. However, it is important to remember that holding onto the progress that has been achieved and going even further will still be part of the process, and that same-sex marriage is not the only gay civil rights issue.
When same-sex marriage became legal in the United States in 2015, one of the most important milestones in American history had officially been reached. Same-sex marriage is already legal throughout most of the developed world, and the fact that the United States has managed to become part of that tremendous movement is significant in its own right. The United States still has a lot of power on the global scale, which makes this change in the culture of the United States so important. The developing world still needs to make a lot of progress when it comes to gay rights, and many religions still do not support same-sex marriage for their followers. However, the trend is towards broader marriage equality.
However, there are conservatives who are trying to turn back the clock. Some conservatives are content to keep this at the level of personal protests that will be ultimately ineffective. Some conservatives have surrendered, and they are now moving onto other relationship styles in search of new targets. However, other conservatives have grand plans for what they’re going to do if the balance of power in the Supreme Court shifts, so activists cannot get too comfortable.
There is also the fact that gay rights issues are more complicated than this. Gay people still face disproportionate problems with homelessness and employment discrimination, as do trans people. There are still conservatives who are trying to advocate for their supposed rights to discriminate against gay people. There’s also the fact that marriage equality in the United States and elsewhere in general has other problems. Many people struggling with disabilities and many poor people still struggle to marry the people who they love, and some of them are also going to be LGBT people. Removing one legal barrier to marriage is important, but people should not act as if all legal barriers to marriage have been removed.
Naturally, social barriers to gay marriage have not entirely dissolved. Interracial marriage has been legal for a long time, and many interracial couples are still going to face discrimination. Gay couples, especially if they are gay and interracial or gay and trans, will still face social discrimination. However, the relative lack of legal discrimination for them still represents hard-won progress that people will have to fight to keep.