The conservative son of the late President Ronald Reagan is strongly rebuking a county clerk in Kentucky for refusing to obey court orders to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Michael Reagan is a longtime radio talk show host. He is now a motivational speaker and serves as president of the Reagan Legacy Foundation. On Wednesday, as Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis continued to refuse issuing licenses due to her strongly-held religious convictions, Reagan tweeted “She needs to find a new job. Agree or not, it’s the law.”
On Thursday, Davis was sent to jail by U.S. District Court Judge David L. Bunning for refusing to comply with federal court decisions demanding that she give her approval to gay and lesbian weddings.
“The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order,” Judge Bunning said in issuing the arrest order. “If you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that’s what potentially causes problems.”
Bunning was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush. He is also the son of former Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky. He chose not to fine Davis, because he suspected like-minded Americans would make sure she suffered no major financial penalties.
Reagan’s tweet in response to Bunning’s ruling: “She is an idiot.”
In a subsequent interview, Reagan believes the issue is quite simple. It all comes down to where Davis works.
“She has a government job. She doesn’t have a job in the private sector. She has a job in the government. When you work for the government, you in fact work for all the people. You don’t get to pick and choose who you agree with and who you don’t agree with. Like when you get elected president or governor, you’re not representing just the people who voted for you. You’re representing all the people,” said Reagan.
He says conservatives are right to protest the Obama administration’s selective enforcement of federal laws, so they should have no more tolerance for those who do it elsewhere in government.
“Just because the President of the United States is doing what he’s doing does not mean that, ‘Oh, we get to do the same thing.’ If you’re not happy, then elect a new President of the United States. Elect someone who better represents you and what you want to see done from the presidency of the United States of America,” said Reagan.
“That’s how simple it is. But don’t go, ‘Well, he’s selective so I’m going to be selective,” he added.
Reagan says says he sympathizes with Davis adhering to her biblical convictions However, he says if she believes she cannot follow the court’s orders, she has an obvious option.
“I disagree with gay marriage, but the reality is it is the law. The Supreme Court has ruled it’s the law. If you’re not happy with it, you can quit,” said Reagan. “They can’t fire her. She can quit and find another job. I would suggest maybe she get one with the church.”
That argument is passionately disputed by other conservatives in support of Davis.
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., who is also a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, argues that Davis should not be punished because there is no law she’s violating.
“The Supreme Court cannot and did not make a law. They only made a ruling on a law. Congress makes the laws. Because Congress has made no law allowing for same sex marriage, Kim does not have the Constitutional authority to issue a marriage license to homosexual couples,” said Huckabee in a statement.
Reagan is not swayed by the argument that Davis cannot possibly be breaking the law since there are no specific federal or state laws she is flouting, only court decisions, which Davis defenders contend do not carry the weight of statute.
“Again, let’s start nitpicking at this whole thing. It’s really simple. The Supreme Court has ruled that gays, lesbians can get married. That’s what they have ruled. As long as they have ruled that and you’re working at a government job, then you are to enforce what, indeed, what has been approved and ruled on by the Supreme Court,” said Reagan, who says his father, as governor, was forced to comply with court decisions he did not agree with.
Some of the moderate GOP presidential hopefuls side with Reagan, including Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham and John Kasich.
“When you are a government employee as opposed to say, an employee of another kind of organization, then in essence, you are agreeing to act as an arm of the government,” said Fiorina on the Hugh Hewitt Show.
“Is she prepared to continue to work for the government, be paid for by the government in which case she needs to execute the government’s will, or does she feel so strongly about this that she wants to severe her employment with the government and go seek employment elsewhere where her religious liberties would be paramount over her duties as as government employee,” she added.
Graham, also speaking to Hewitt, was even more blunt.
“As a public official, comply with the law or resign,” said Graham.
Kasich once again made it clear he has no intention of encouraging resistance following the court decisions.
“”We’ll honor what the Supreme Court does,” Kasich told the Washington Post. “It’s the law of the land. It’s the way that America functions.”
Davis and her defenders do not suggest there is no actual law being violated, but they say her first amendment right to freely exercise her faith is being infringed by the courts.
“When people of conviction fight for what’s right they often pay a price, but if they don’t and we surrender, we will pay a far greater price for bowing to the false God of judicial supremacy. Government is not God. No man – and certainly no unelected lawyer – has the right to redefine the laws of nature or of nature’s God,” said Huckabee in his statement.
“The federal government, and by extension, the court, has no business to compel people of faith to violate their religious beliefs,” said Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Sen. Ted Cruz told the Washington Post.
Sen. Rand Paul, who represents Kentucky, was adamant in his revulsion over Judge Bunning’s decision to jail Davis.
“I think it’s absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty,” Sen. Paul, R-KY, told CNN. “If you want to convince people that same-sex ‘marriage’ is something that’s acceptable I would say try to persuade people” instead of using state force.
Paul says the treatment of Davis by Judge Bunning will only stiffen the resolve of traditional marriage supporters and possibly even drive some states and localities out of the marriage business altogether.
Other Davis allies suggest asking Davis to violate her conscience by handing out marriage licenses to same-sex couples is akin to forcing a pro-life obstetrician to perform abortions because it is legal.
Reagan quickly dismissed that argument as well.
“This argument goes back and forth all the time. It gets really old and really tiresome, trying to find analogies here and analogies there and conscience and so on. She’s out there saying it’s God’s law. OK, it’s God’s law. Is it God’s law that you’ve been married four times and divorced? Is that God’s law too?” said Reagan.
“I’m really getting tired of Christians who only know how to point a finger but don’t know how to live under their own pointed finger,” he added.
Davis is married for the fourth time. She says her conversion to Christianity happened within the past few years.
Nonetheless, Reagan believes the Bible is on his side in his belief that Davis should either quit or issue marriage licenses to gays and lesbians.
“Let’s all start living under the laws that were passed. What did they say? “Render under Caesar what is Caesar’s. Render unto God what is God’s” (Mark 12:17). Well, guess what? Under Caesar, the reality is gays can be married,” said Reagan.