So, journalists interested in covering the real legal issues at stake in the Kim Davis case, did you read the piece that the editorial pages team at The New York Times -- in a moment of intellectual diversity that is worthy of applause -- ran by Ryan T. Davis on the framework for a compromise that benefits gay couples and traditional religious believers?
It you did not read it, now is the time. Read it all.
Now, this essay is directly linked to the key facts on the ground in Kentucky. While the mainstream press has focused on screaming armies on the cultural left and right, actual legislators in that state -- Democrats and Republicans -- have been trying to get to Democratic governor to call a special session so that they care respond to the 5-4 Obergefell decision at the U.S. Supreme Court.
The centrist goal -- this is the story, folks -- is to find a centrist compromise that give gay couples marriage licenses, with no hassles or penalties of any kind, while also giving traditional Christians, Muslims and Jews the same kind of conflict-of-interest "work around" accommodations as thousands of other public servants on other issues.
That's what this Times op-ed is all about. It is not part of a campaign to deny LGBT people their rights. It is about an effort to promote compromise. Again, one does not have to agree with these liberal and moderate people in the middle to recognize that this effort to craft the ACTUAL LEGISLATION in Kentucky is a key element of the real news story. Right?
So here is a crucial chunk of the Anderson essay.
Some on the left say that you must do every aspect of your job, despite your beliefs, or resign. But this has never been the practice in the United States. We have a rich history of accommodating conscientious objectors in a variety of settings, including government employees. Do we really want to say that an otherwise competent employee must quit or go to jail if there is another alternative?
We shouldn’t want that. Indeed, one state -- North Carolina -- has already shown how to accommodate conscience and ensure that all citizens receive the legal documents, including marriage licenses, for which they are eligible.
Because each marriage license issued by the clerk’s office bore her name and title, Ms. Davis concluded that her religious beliefs meant she could not have her office issue licenses to same-sex couples. So she had the office stop issuing them entirely.
Ms. Davis felt she had to follow her conscience. And whether or not we share her Christian faith, and its particular positions about issuing civil marriage licenses, is beside the point.
That, after all, is what religious freedom and religious accommodations are all about: creating the space for citizens to fulfill their duties, as they understand them, to God -- regardless of what the rest of us think. Of course, religious freedom and accommodations aren’t absolute. Federal anti-discrimination law requires a reasonable accommodation of religious belief where it does not place undue hardships on the employer. And Kentucky, like many other states, provides additional protection against unnecessary government burdens on religion.
So it was incumbent upon the government to try to work out a solution. Ms. Davis wasn’t trying to prevent same-sex couples from getting marriage licenses at all; she just didn’t want her name or title on the paperwork. That’s why she wouldn’t allow her deputies to issue the licenses.
Kentucky accommodates conscience for other licenses. Why not marriage?