America’s equality agenda not so equal, leans toward popular opinions

Viewpoints Editor

Each week, we explore both sides of a current issue through opposing Viewpoints. The alternate editorial for this week’s Face Off can be found here: “Davis’s decision violates Federal law, religious beliefs not main issue.

America is on a race to reach a society of equality and freedom for all. But it seems as though we are equating equality to sameness of perspective. At this point, your equality is only defended if you share the liberal viewpoint that is popular today.

People like Kim Davis — the county clerk from Kentucky who was jailed for harmlessly refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses — are not defended under America’s equality agenda because their views are not liberal and popular.

Gay marriage is now legal in the United States and there is nothing Davis or anyone can do about that. But it is only counterproductive to force anyone to abandon their religious beliefs in order to implement the law. It is not fair to take away the religious freedom of one in order to fulfill the marital freedom of another.

There are many laws in the U.S. that go against some people’s religious beliefs and those people are not jailed for excluding themselves from engaging with that specific situation.

In August, a Muslim flight attendant was suspended after refusing to serve alcohol, citing her religious beliefs as a source of conflict. The suspension came after two months of accommodation by her employer. The employer made a deal with her that allowed her co-flight attendant to serve all alcoholic beverages instead. A co-worker finally got tired of having to accommodate her and filed a complaint. Although the airline ended up suspending her, their two months of accommodations prove that it is possible to have differing viewpoints and still accommodate the beliefs of others.

This flight attendant’s suspension is justified because her conversion to Islam came after she had already accepted the job. When the airline hired her they did not expect to deal with such conflict. Davis’s case however is different. She was elected as a county clerk on Jan. 5 and the legalization of gay marriage happened on June 26.

Upon running for and winning the office of county clerk, Davis was not aware of the fact that she would have to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Penalizing her for refusing to issue the licenses is much like penalizing a restaurant employee who is employed to be a cleaner and then gets asked to cook the food.

The employee cannot be penalized for refusing to do work that is outside of his original job description. Terminating Davis instead of jailing her would be a much more sensible approach because then she can be terminated on the grounds that she no longer fits the position as it evolves.

Creating an America that is equal and inclusive means creating an America that is inclusive to beliefs that are both popular and unpopular.