"You can't make me," is a favorite retort of school children, and often precedes a tantrum. But that type of defiance seems to be emerging from a growing number of limelight- seeking government officials. In the past few weeks, elected officials in Kentucky and Oregon have offered similar responses when asked to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
When a Kentucky county clerk named Kim Davis holed up in her office and refused to issue licenses to couples over her personal objection to gay marriage, no one seemed particularly surprised. But while those on one side created memes, made jokes, and generally regarded Davis as a mockable media spectacle, for those who believe upholding the constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court of the United States violates their religious liberty, Davis has become a different type of media sensation. She is a hero and an inspiration.
Oregon now has its own emerging rebel for religious freedom, Marion County Circuit Court Judge Vance Day, who happens to also be a former chair for the Oregon Republican Party.
Both Davis and Vance are facing potential legal repercussions. After all, they are defying the law and breaking their oaths to uphold the Constitution. While everyone is entitled to their beliefs, and while the constitution bars Congress from making laws regarding the establishment of religion or prohibiting its free exercise, it's expected that elected officials will fulfill the duties of their office so that our nation can continue to be, well, a nation.
As satire publication The Onion astutely observed, a county clerk or judge refusing to issue marriage licenses because of their "strongly held religious beliefs" is similar to a pharmacist converting to Christian Science (which eschews modern medicine in favor of prayer) and then refusing to fill prescriptions.
No one is forcing Davis or Vance to continue to hold a position that requires the issuing of marriage licenses. If they are opposed to playing a part in the legal marriage of two men, or two women, they should find another line of work. Perhaps one that works constructively in the private sector to advance their personal beliefs.
The Supreme Court has ruled on marriage. While individuals may oppose rulings through what we hope are peaceful means, public servants who use their position to impede the proper function of the law should not. They only create attention-hungry copycats and headaches for those citizens trying to do nothing more radical than move forward with their daily lives.