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Memories of the 28th Century

Conscientious Objection

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The recent action, or refusal to act, by Kimberly Jean Bailey Davis, the county clerk of a Rowan County, Kentucky has created a bit of steam and irk among people who think that homosexuals should have the privilege of marrying each other. Many of the people who have condemned her action have taken part in civil disobedience in some form themselves, and many consider most examples of Conscientious Objection admirable.

Although we usually think of Conscientious Objection in regard to refusing to go to war; Conscientious Objection is recognized in a number of professions, including the medical profession. A number of states have passed laws protecting medical professionals who act according to the Conscientious Objections in medicine. See links below.

While medical professionals and potential soldiers are granted by statute the right to refuse to act in ways that they object to for deeply held moral reason, and a similar right is recognized for people of certain religious sects. The same right is not granted to everyone for whatever moral objections they might have. Few people would object if a lawyer refused to defend someone he (or she) thought had committed some particularly heinous crime; there would not be any thought of punishing the lawyer. I could think up examples of Conscientious Objection in other professions and have the same conclusions about them, but when someone in local government refuses to do something that she finds morally objectionable there is widespread criticism. I have worked in local government, and people in that field frequently act or refuse to act based on moral objections, but someone else gets stuck with the dirty work and life goes on. I understand that Ms Davis also had the problem that there was no law under which she could issue the licenses; although the court had decreed that they had to be issued. Local officials are very restricted as to what they can do, and stepping outside the lines usually makes the action invalid and opens the way to suit against official.

Thoreau's justly famous essay "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience" is about exactly; that it is the responsibility of citizens to disobey laws and regulations that they find morally objectionable. Thoreau put himself where his words were and went to jail for his beliefs, and Me Davis is doing the same.

It is my opinion that government should not regulate personal relationships in any way, so I approve of her action (or lack there of), but even people who think that government should regulate the relationship between (or among) people of any and all sexual persuasions should admire her commitment to her moral beliefs. I also agree with Thoreau that we have the responsibility to engage in Civil Disobedience when we believe that some law or regulation is wrong.

"I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
Maybe by Voltaire or maybe by one of his biographers

I write like H. P. Lovecraft according to

Updated 09-06-2015 at 03:16 PM by PeterL



  1. Dark Muse's Avatar
    I do not believe she should have the right to defy the law, and as such also deny some one else's legal rights. She should not be able to use her religious beliefs to discriminate against other people and impose her personal beliefs upon them. There is allegedly Separation of Church and State (yeah I know that is a big joke) but still, I agree that a church should be able to deny preforming a ceremony for a gay marriage because a church is a private institution, but I do not think a clerk in a government office should be allowed to use their religion to deny someone else their legal rights based upon their own personal beliefs. If she has a problem granting marriage licenses to gay couples she needs to find another job.
  2. PeterL's Avatar
    I understand your opinion.

    "If she has a problem granting marriage licenses to gay couples she needs to find another job.
    Until recently her job in no way involved the marriage licenses of homosexual couples.
    Updated 09-06-2015 at 07:10 PM by PeterL
  3. Clopin's Avatar
    Liberals are being hugely hypocritical as usual. Still, she needs to find a new job.
  4. PeterL's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Clopin
    Liberals are being hugely hypocritical as usual. Still, she needs to find a new job.
    I agree with you on both points; although, if the state legislature had developed a work around, as they have with other matters, then she could keep the job. Apparently she has ben clerk for several years without any problems.