|Sympathy for the county clerk
||[Sep. 2nd, 2015|08:52 pm]
The press has been a-buzz with the news of the county clerk in Kentucky who refuses to provide marriage licenses for any but man/woman pairs. Despite several legal defeats (including the Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case), the clerk refuses to obey the law, citing God's law as higher.
I disapprove of her behavior.
I am disappointed by the behavior of many liberals in this matter. More on that later.
I want to build some understanding for this woman, and perhaps some sympathy. Let's look at her situation with three lenses: economical, psychological, and spiritual.
Many of us have worked for large organizations, and many of us have been subjected to changes in the business. The changes could be a reorganization, a redistribution of tasks, a relocation of the office, or a change in technology (moving from Windows XP to Windows 8, for example). The clerk is facing a similar, of larger, change in the business of the county clerk office. She could simply resign her position. But this may be difficult.
It is one thing to leave a job for a better job. It is another to walk away from a job and have... nothing lined up. This clerk cannot simply move to another county and be a clerk there -- the equality of marriage extends across the country. Leaving the clerk office and working somewhere else may be difficult: I suspect that the skills needed in the clerk's office are not easily transferable to many jobs in the private sector. I also suspect that jobs in the private sector pay less and offer fewer benefits -- if any -- than the county clerk office.
From just the economics, leaving the job is not easy.
Psychology is another aspect. The position of county clerk is an elected office, which means that to hold the position, one must win an election. I suspect that running for the office, campaigning, and waiting on election night is more thrilling than interviewing with companies. With more emotional investment up front, one is more attached to the job.
This individual has held this position for years, which means that they have been through multiple elections. (The elections may have been uncontested, which is typical for local offices, but that matters little.) Those elections, over the years, are positive reinforcement of the person's work; they are approval from the county residents. That's a strong message to counter.
As a county clerk, this individual probably interacts with many people from the county, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. They voted for her, and are probably still telling her that she is doing a good job. Why would someone leave?
Spiritually, stepping down from the position is nothing less that defeat. It is an admission that God's law is not supreme, an idea that may be alien to this individual. Such beliefs are long in building and traumatic to change.
I disagree with the individual's behavior. I think it is proper for her to follow constitutional law and issue marriage licenses to all comers. Yet I want to have sympathy for her.
Which gets me to the behavior of liberals.
I have seen, on a number of web sites, comments to the affect that "if she cannot do the job, she should just resign". (Some comments have been less polite.)
For the reasons I outlined above, I think that simply walking away from the job is difficult. (I walked away from a job, several years ago, and it was not easy. And I had a pile of cash to live upon and no other mouths to feed.)
Liberals often accuse conservatives of presenting solutions that are simplistic, dogmatic, and without nuance. (Many of these accusations have merit.) But the claim that this woman should "just resign" is simplistic, dogmatic, and without nuance. In this case, liberals are committing the sin of which they attribute to conservatives.
I encourage liberals (and conservatives) to propose solutions after careful consideration of the person's situation and with compassion and creativity.