In what many are taking as a statement on the Kim Davis affair, President Obama said Sunday night that religious freedom is not a free pass to deny others’ constitutional rights.
This is a key point the Arkansas legislature doesn’t get. When they talk of protecting religious freedom, they mean protecting those who want to discriminate against others and impose their particular religious beliefs as law for all.
At a New York City fundraiser for the DNC, the President told about 500 supporters that one person’s claim of religious liberty is not a license to deny another person’s civil rights.
“We affirm that we cherish our religious freedom and are profoundly respectful of religious traditions,” Pres. Obama said.
“But we also have to say clearly that our religious freedom doesn’t grant us the freedom to deny our fellow Americans their constitutional rights,” He continued, respectfully. “And that even as we are respectful and accommodating genuine concerns and interests of religious institutions, we need to reject politicians who are supporting new forms of discrimination as a way to scare up votes. That’s not how we move America forward.”
There you have it. Kim Davis may oppose same-sex marriage as a matter of her religious belief just as other clerks once rejected mixed-race marriage and others rejected “race-mixing” in schools on religious grounds. But the U.S. Constitution gives public officials no trump card over others’ constitutional rights. Davis can 1) issue the licenses 2) allow her employees to do so 3) find another job 4) go to jail. The only choice not available to her is to make her religion the law of Rowan County, Ky.