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Kim Davis a martyr for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses
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By Andrea Peyser
September 14, 2015

Kim Davis a martyr for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses

She’s gone from being an obscure county clerk to a Christian martyr.

The jailing of Kim Davis, the Kentucky official who just said no, is a case of religious persecution that should strike fear in the hearts of all Americans — gay, straight or anything else.

This is not about same-sex marriage, legalized nationwide in June by the US Supreme Court. As readers of this column know, I support it wholeheartedly.

This is about a chilling case of a federal judge’s insane overreach in the struggle to trounce a woman’s constitutional right to religious freedom. Bigotry and intolerance have won.

All over the United States, Christian Refuseniks who decline to participate in same-sex nuptials out of the religiously held belief that marriage is the union of one man and one women are being publicly humiliated, forced to quit their jobs or fined into oblivion by those who won’t tolerate dissent.

These cases include that of a Christian baker in Colorado who refused to create a cake for the wedding of two men in 2012 — and was recently ordered by a state appeals court to accommodate homosexuals or face hefty monetary penalties. In 2011, just before same-sex marriage was legalized in New York state, I presented the stories of two upstate New York town clerks, Christians who refused to unite in marriage Jills and Janes and Adams and Steves. One was forced to quit her post. The other, an elected official, stopped performing all weddings and handed that duty to a deputy.

Last year, I wrote about Cynthia and Robert Gifford, Christians who own, operate and live on Liberty Ridge Farm near Albany. The couple has employed homosexuals and a transgender man. “We respect and care for everyone!’’ Cynthia Gifford told me in November.

But after the Giffords refused to host a lesbian couple’s marriage rite in 2012, an administrative-law judge fined them $10,000. The judge also compelled the Giffords to fork over $1,500 to each member of the lesbian pair to compensate them for “mental anguish.’’ The Giffords have stopped booking all wedding ceremonies on their farm, but still hold receptions, including ones for gay couples.

The women got married elsewhere. What about the Giffords’ financial and emotional anguish?

Big Brother got the last laugh Sept. 3. US District Court Judge David Bunning found Davis, 49, a Democrat elected to the post of Rowan County clerk, in contempt of court for refusing to sign her name on marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples, and had her thrown into the clink.

This, after she’d refused to sign marriage licenses for anyone, gay or not, so as not to discriminate.

Davis was set free by the judge after five days, having spent Labor Day weekend locked up. As Davis emerged into the daylight this past Tuesday, Bunning ordered her not to prevent her deputies from issuing same-sex marriage licenses after she returns to work Monday. (Her son, a deputy clerk, said he won’t issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.) Then the unexpected happened.

Davis, an Apostolic Christian maligned as a hypocrite by leftists for her four marriages (her three divorces occurred before she became a Christian in 2011), was sprung from jail to a heroine’s welcome from about 1,000 supporters, some waving white crosses. These included ex-Arkansas Gov. and Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee. Obscure no more, she has become the face of religious resistance rising up against oppression.

“People of faith feel burdened by laws that don’t reflect their values,’’ James Trainor, a lawyer who has appealed the Giffords’ case to the state Appellate Division, told me last week.

The main difference between Davis’ case and the Giffords’ is that his clients are not public officials expected to uphold the law, said Trainor. He argues that the couple’s First Amendment right to religious freedom has been violated by a judge who essentially tried to force them to support same-sex marriage by requiring them to host such ceremonies. He disagrees with the ruling that Liberty Ridge Farm is a “public accommodation’’ that must serve everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.

“The similarity between [Davis’] case and ours is that these folks have to choose between making a living and living their faith,’’ he said.

Same-sex marriage is here to stay. I embrace it. But I cannot understand why the justices of the nation’s highest court have decreed that clergy members may opt out of performing same-sex marriages, but no such exemption exists for non-ordained people of faith.

Jailing, fining or harassing people for expressing their religious beliefs is no way to change hearts and minds.

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