Obergefell, gay man at center of SCOTUS case, pens open letter to Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis

by Gregory Tomlin, |
Jim Obergefell (L) walks out of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, June 18, 2015. Obergefell, the gay man at the center of the landmark same-sex marriage case, has written a scathing letter telling Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to ditch her religious beliefs and "simply do your job" and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In the meantime, Pope Francis has told Davis to "stay strong" and praised the right of conscientious objection, even for government employees and elected public officials. | REUTERS/Carlos Barria

NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – Fresh off his appearance at the Democrat National Committee's LGBT Gala in Washington, D.C., the gay man at the center of the U.S. Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, has penned an open letter to Rowan County, Kentucky, Clerk Kim Davis.

Davis became a national hero for religious conservatives for her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the Supreme Court decision in June. She also became a pariah to those on the political Left who see her as a bigot and renegade lawbreaker. Davis spent six days in jail for defying a federal judge's orders to issue the marriage licenses.

In the letter, posted on the ACLU's website, Jim Obergefell writes about his two-decades-long relationship with his partner John, a man he says inspired him "to demand our right to be recognized by our country. I earned the right to lawfully call him my husband, just as you have a right to call your husband such. Love transcends gender."

"You're imposing the same indignities on couples in Rowan County that John and I suffered when Ohio would not legally recognize us as a married couple. Thankfully, the law is now changed so that nobody should ever have to experience the injustice that John and I endured. No one is above the law, Kim, not even you," Obergefell wrote.

Chastising Davis for judging his love, Obergefell told Davis, "It's your job to simply do your job."

"Issuing a marriage license at work is not a personal endorsement of my marriage any more than recording a deed is an endorsement of my home ownership," Obergefell wrote. "It's simply following the rules in this civil society in which we've all agreed to be members."

"What truly matters is the kindness and compassion we share with our families and with those around us. Love makes a family. And as of June 2015 the federal government agrees," he wrote.

Obergefell concluded the letter, which is also signed by more than 10,000 ACLU supporters, that Davis should not stand in the way of same-sex couples "seeking their legal right to have their love recognized."

Davis has not spoken in public since her release from jail and since the court reached an accommodation, which included the licenses being signed "Rowan County" instead of by her. The ACLU has recently complained that the licenses now no longer have the county seal, but the seal of a notary public. The ACLU has also asked federal Judge David Bunning to look into Davis's interference once again.

For Davis and her attorney, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, the Constitution's First Amendment guarantees her the right to avoid violating her conscience even if she is a public official. Davis is a Christian who believes God forbids same-sex marriage.

During his recent visit to the United States, Pope Francis conveyed the same when he met with Davis privately. According to Staver, the pontiff thanked Davis for her defense of natural marriage and told her to "stay strong."

On his return flight to Rome, Pope Francis told reporters that conscientious objection is a fundamental human right, even if it is a government official objecting to a practice he or she feels is immoral.

"It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right. Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right. Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying 'this right that has merit, this one does not,'" Pope Francis said.

The president of the United States disagrees. At the LGBT Gala where Obergefell appeared, President Barack Obama said when religious liberty and gay rights come into conflict, gay rights will win.

While Obama said the government will determine "the genuine concerns and interests of religious institutions" – which the First Amendment has prohibited since 1791 – he also said the government has to say "clearly that our religious freedom doesn't grant us the freedom to deny our fellow Americans their constitutional rights."