Surprise! In tonight's undercard debate, when it came time to address the situation involving Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, one of the most nuanced—dare I say progressive—takes came from the neoconservative uber-hawk Southerner on the stage.
As former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal decried the persecution and discrimination of Christian "businessowners," New York Gov. George Pataki brought the common sense, backed up, of all people, by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. Both men noted that although they don't agree with the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sax marriage is the law of the land and that needs to be respected.
"An elected official can't say I'm not going to follow that law if it conflicts with my beliefs. I think she should have been fired and if she worked for me, I would have fired her. We have to uphold the rule of law," Pataki said.
When Santorum pushed back, saying Pataki was giving in to "judicial supremacy," the New Yorker calmly reminded him that the Constitution can be amended, adding: "I am a great admirer of Martin Luther King. And he was prepared to break the law. But it wasn't in an office of political power. It was civil disobedience, where what he was willing to do is voluntarily go to jail with his followers to send a message to the elected representatives that these laws were wrong and had to be changed."
A few minutes later, Graham weighed in, coming down on Pataki's side and citing Marbury v. Madison in the process. "The group in our constitutional democracy that interprets the Constitution as to what it means is the Supreme Court," he said. "In a 5–4 decision the Supreme Court have ruled that same-sex marriage bans at the state level violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution's equal protection clause. I don't agree with it, but that is the law of the land."
What Pataki and even Graham seemed to get (that Jindal and Santorum didn't) is that Davis isn't just a private citizen—and she certainly isn't a businessowner. Individuals have the right to religious expression, to include deciding whom to employ and with whom to do business (a tenet the American left would do well to show more respect for, I might add). But government employees cannot violate the law, denying Americans their constitutionally protected rights while they're at it, and expect not to face serious consequences. As I discussed in some detail shortly before she was held in contempt of court and sent to jail, there is no right to draw a paycheck for a job you're actively refusing to do.