Reprinted from WSWS
Six of the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination have come out publicly in support of Kim Davis, the clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, who has been jailed for refusing a court order to begin issuing licenses for gay marriages.
The open defense of anti-gay bigotry is an indication of the drastic shift to the right in American capitalist politics, in which arguments based on religious doctrine are increasingly accepted by both parties as legitimiate in making policy decisions.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Texas Senator Ted Cruz have taken the most strident public positions, joined by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.
Several more Republican hopefuls, like former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, have expressed sympathy for Davis's actions and urged the Kentucky state legislature to find a way to accommodate anti-gay bigotry and the Supreme Court's decision striking down legal barriers to marriage equality.
Davis remains in jail for defying the order of US District Judge David Bunning to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Five of her six deputies -- the exception was Davis's own son Nathan -- began issuing licenses Friday in her absence.
The Rowan County clerk has drawn national attention and support from Christian fundamentalist groups. She is one of three Kentucky county clerks to refuse marriage licenses to gay couples, along with a dozen or more from Alabama and a scattered few in other states.
A Democrat elected in 2014, Davis is a member of an Apostolic Church that adheres to a literal interpretation of the Bible. While presenting her actions as an assertion of her religious freedom, Davis is really trampling on the freedom of others, using her position as the issuer of marriage licenses in Rowan County to prevent gay couples from gaining the legal sanction for their relationships that they are entitled to receive under the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.
Walker discussed the case on a right-wing talk show Thursday, claiming that Davis was only exercising her freedom of religion. "I read that the Constitution is very clear that people have freedom of religion," he said. "You have the freedom to practice religious beliefs out there, it's a fundamental right."
Santorum told CNN's "New Day" program Friday, "What Kim Davis did, in my opinion, was heroic." He claimed that the Supreme Court "acted unconstitutionally" when it ruled that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry.
Jindal declared, "I don't think anybody should have to choose between following their conscience -- their religious beliefs -- and giving up their job or facing financial sanction," adding, "You should be able to keep your job and follow your conscience."
Rand Paul, speaking on CNN, said, "It's absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty." While Paul has in the past presented himself as "socially tolerant," supposedly because of his libertarian views, he has pandered to the Christian fundamentalists in Kentucky, his home state, where he will be a candidate for re-election to the Senate next year.
The most strident defenses of Davis came from Cruz and Huckabee. Cruz issued a vitriolic attack on Judge David Bunning, a conservative Republican appointed by George W. Bush, for ordering Davis to comply with the Supreme Court decision, declaring, "Today, judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny. Today, for the first time ever, the government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith. This is wrong. This is not America."
This assertion is preposterous. Davis is jailed not for "living according to her faith," but for refusing, as an elected public official, to carry out her duties under the law. When Christian pacifists attempt to disrupt the functioning of US nuclear weapons facilities, they are invariably arrested, and reactionaries like Cruz do not shed any tears, let alone howl about the persecution of nuns.
"Those who are persecuting Kim Davis believe that Christians should not serve in public office," Cruz said in a statement this week. "That is the consequence of their position. Or, if Christians do serve in public office, they must disregard their religious faith -- or be sent to jail."
Here theocracy raises its ugly head. Cruz & Co. seek to impose the religious views of a specific Christian sect on the entire population of a vast and diverse country, in defiance of the constitutional separation of church and state laid down in the First Amendment.
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