A Christian who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples—Kim Davis, the county clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky—has been ordered to jail for contempt of court.
Davis was ordered by a federal district judge to begin issuing licenses. She asked a federal appeals court, and then the Supreme Court, to put the district court’s order on hold while her case is pending on appeal, but the higher courts declined to do so.
As Breitbart News explained earlier this week, Davis is not merely claiming a First Amendment right not to participate in same-sex marriages by issuing a marriage certificate. Such a refusal should be accommodated under the First Amendment in the same way that this country accommodates religious objectors to war: by assigning to noncombat roles those whose faith forbids them from using military weapons.
But as Breitbart News previously reported, Davis is claiming the right to use her governmental power to order all of her deputy clerks and other subordinates that they shall not issue marriages licenses, either. Her personal right to religiously object probably does not extend to using her public-office power to order other government workers to conform to her personal faith-based beliefs. To use the military example again, this would be like a religious pacifist agreeing to be assigned to command an infantry combat unit, then ordering all the troops under her command to lay down their weapons and refuse to fight.
Ken Klukowski is legal editor for Breitbart News and senior counsel for Liberty Institute. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.