I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unequivocally that the 14th Amendment forbids states from banning same sex marriage. A government official may not, based on her own personal religious preferences, disobey this ruling and refuse to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. This is no more permissible than refusing to issue licenses based on a religious belief that does not accept the marriage of mixed race couples or of people like Kim Davis -- the Kentucky clerk at the center of this controversy -- who are three-times divorced.
-- U.S. Constitution, Article Two, Section One, Clause Eight
The federal judge who found Davis in contempt and put her in jail stated: “The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order. If you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that’s what potentially causes problems."
And just to be clear, Davis isn't being jailed for her religious beliefs that marriage is only between a man and a woman, as her lawyers have argued. She can believe whatever she wants. But she has to carry out her duties as a government official in compliance with the law.
This is pretty simple. As President Obama's press secretary put it, “every public official is subject to the rule of law. No one is above the law. That applies to the president of the United States and it applies to the clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, as well.”
Any candidate for president who does not firmly believe in the rule of law -- who believes that Kim Davis is being unjustly punished, who believes that a government official may refuse to follow the law based on her own idiosyncratic religious beliefs -- should be disqualified immediately from seeking office.
That would certainly include the unabashed Kim Davis fan club: Ted Cruz ("Today, for the first time ever, the government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith. This is wrong."); Rand Paul (“I think people who do stand up and are making a stand to say that they believe in something is an important part of the American way”); Mike Huckabee (“ stand with Kim Davis and every American of faith under attack by Washington elites who have nothing but disdain for us, our faith and the Constitution”); Bobby Jindal (“I don’t think anyone should have to choose between following their conscience and religious beliefs and giving up their job and facing financial sanctions"); and Scott Walker ("I read that the Constitution is very clear that people have freedom of religion -- you have the freedom to practice religious beliefs out there, it's a fundamental right").
And that would also include those making fruitless attempts at finding a balance between actual constitutional rights and what is euphemistically being called "religious liberty": Chris Christie (“we have to protect religious liberty and people’s ability to be able to practice their religion freely and openly, and of course we have to enforce the law too"); Jeb Bush ("“It seems to me that there ought to be common ground, there ought to be a big enough space for her to act on her conscience, and for now that the law is the law of the land, for a gay couple to be married in whatever jurisdiction that is"). Marco Rubio (“While the clerk’s office has a governmental duty to carry out the law, there should be a way to protect the religious freedom and conscience rights of individuals working in the office”).
As of this morning, John Kasich, Ben Carson and Donald Trump have yet to take a stand one way or the other.
So far, only Carly Fiorina and Lindsey Graham have passed this remarkably low bar, agreeing that Kim Davis, having accepted a government job, has to either follow the law or find work that is more in line with her faith.
The Republican National Committee is forcing its candidates to take an oath promising to support the eventual Republican nominee. Far more importantly, Republican candidates should be required take an oath that they promise, if elected, to follow the rule of law. It is one they would have to take eventually if any of them became president -- God forbid.