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Free to be LGBT
The United States of America has long stood as a cultural pillar for democracy and freedom. In fact, freedom is kind of America’s “thing.” America became a little freer on June 26, 2015 when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the legalization of gay marriage in the United States of America.
Individual states could no longer ban same-sex marriage, making America the 20th country to allow nationwide marriage equality. This was a day long-awaited by the LGBT community and their straight allies. There were nationwide nuptials and celebrations for this legalization of love.
“It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage…They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the decision.
Often times, the United States stands divided on many social and political matters, and this decision has caused a great deal of social backlash from religious and political conservatives who do not support the idea of same-sex couples getting married.
Society struggles with change, especially when specific communities feel their values are being threatened. This is human nature, and it continues the pattern of opposition to social progress.
However, when has this kind of progress ever proved to lessen America’s social or political strength? For every human rights movement we have seen come to fruition and reach its goals, America has only become mightier and is the envy of the citizens of other countries that do not extend the same freedoms we are granted here. In fact, after the marriage decision, many Australians took to social media in support of the Supreme Court, expressing the desire for similar rights in their own country.
The most recent face of gay marriage opposition is Kim Davis, the county clerk from Rowan County, Kentucky, who was recently jailed for six days after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in her county. She cited her Christian beliefs as the reason and has become a martyr of sorts for some religious groups.
“We serve a living God who knows exactly where each and every one of us is at. Keep pressing. Don’t let down,” Davis said upon her release, according to TIME magazine.
But here is the thing. Despite Davis’ personal beliefs, she is professionally obligated to serve the Kentucky citizens who elected her into office, not God. Whether or not she as a human being with her own opinions agrees with the marriage equality ruling, she is legally obligated to distribute marriage licenses to whomever enters that courthouse in the pursuit of love, simply because it is now the law in America. Though entitled to her beliefs, her profession is not an opportunity to push her personal agenda or to deny freedoms constitutionally allowed within this country.
Republican presidential candidates have flocked to defend Davis in an effort to garner more political support.
“We gather here today because we love God and this country. And we do not want to see this country become the smoldering remains of a great republic,” said Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and presidential candidate as he introduced Davis to speak before a crowd.
Yet, what point does this reinforce? That these Republican candidates who so freely support a woman who refuses to uphold the law because of her religious beliefs would perhaps be willing to do the same? Is that a quality that America should look for in the next leader of its nation? And what part of the pursuit of equality for every member of this nation is going to render America the “smoldering remains of a great republic?”
But here is what I want to say to Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis: perhaps before you use your religion and your position in the community to determine what constitutes an appropriate marriage, you should reflect on your three divorces and then decide if you should be considered an advocate for the sanctity of marriage. The idea of the separation of church and state exists to protect people from the intermingling of politics and world religion so that no individual is politically oppressed by the spiritual beliefs of others. America is not a theocracy, but rather, a democracy.
America is constantly striving for equality and freedom for all. We have a long way to go, no doubt, but nothing threatens this progress more than the country’s own citizens who try to strip rights away from one another. When individuals try to take away the rights of others because of their own individual beliefs, we jeopardize the very foundation that America was built on.