Sunday, September 6, 2015

No, Kim Davis is not Rosa Parks

Kim Davis and Rosa Parks

Sunday in the Christian Post is an article by Wallace Henley titled “Kim Davis and Rosa Parks.” Henley (a pastor and former low-level Nixon staffer) equates the two. One of the things that Henley fails to do is to draw the distinction between a private citizen (Ms. Parks) and an elected public official (Ms. Davis). He also fails to acknowledge that Parks was part of a persecuted minority while Davis is part of the white Protestant majority.

It doesn't become more intellectually honest from there. Henley provides a lengthy and repetitive polemic that might best be summarized by these two paragraphs:
Jim Crow laws were unjust, encouraged the evil of discrimination, preserved the wicked institution of segregation, and arrested good people like Rosa Parks. The administrations that established and enforced such ungodly, unbiblical laws had to go.

Many believe the Supreme Court last June seized raw power to redefine marriage rather than acting under constitutional authority. Abraham Lincoln noted in his first inaugural speech that the infamous Supreme Court decision regarding Dred Scott, while being the law in that particular case, was not necessarily the law of the land.
Today, Mr. Henley describes Jim Crow laws and ungodly and unbiblical. In their day, however, laws effecting segregation were predicated upon, and excused by, the religious beliefs of the white Protestant majority.

It is not coincidence that the Bible Belt closely coincides with the former slave states and subsequent segregation states. It is also not a coincidence that the greatest opposition to marriage equality comes from those same states that enslaved and then persecuted Black people.

This comparison is the risk that one takes when comparing opposition to marriage equality to opposition to segregation. Jim Crow legalized the persecution of a minority. The ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges provides equal protection and due process to an historically oppressed minority.

The two things are polar opposites which means that those who opposed Jim Crow (Rosa Parks) are the moral opposite of those who oppose marriage equality (Kim Davis). And Ms. Davis is a government official which makes her much more like the historical oppressors of a minority than part of a victimized and prosecuted group. Ms. Davis is also part of the white majority that historically oppressed Black citizens.

Another thing that is lacking in support for Ms. Davis is a failure to acknowledge that this is not about her personally. It is about the occupant of a specific public office. Davis' supposed religious objection to same-sex marriage could be assuaged if she opted out of processing same-sex marriage license applications, referring the tasks to subordinates. But that's not what Davis has done. She has attempted to require that her entire office (all civil servants) frustrates the constitutional rights of gay citizens. It is inexcusable and it is wrong.

Finally, while unstated it is obvious that Mr. Henley (like most Christian conservatives) does not really appreciate that gay citizens are part of a minority group. Henley requires social and medical science to be in accord with his literal understanding of scripture. Therefore, homosexuals are those people who choose to engage in sexual behavior that he disapproves of.

This point of view allows Henley to make an utterly ridiculous comparison of Ms. Davis to Rosa Parks.

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