The Chutzpah of Kim Davis Supporters
For weeks, the battle over marriage equality in the United States has focused on Rowan County, Kentucky. There, elected county clerk Kim Davis has been jailed on federal contempt of court charges for refusing to issue marriage licenses in the wake of the Supreme Court's Obergefell ruling. GOP presidential candidates including Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz quickly rushed to her defense, decrying the "criminalization of Christianity" and calling on "upon every Believer, every Constitutionalist, every lover of liberty to stand with Kim Davis." Meanwhile, her attorney Mat Staver warned of creeping Nazism, "This is what happened to the Jews."
All of which makes what is happening to two Jews in tiny Bath County next door so ironic. There, long-time county clerk Schlomo Boteach is refusing to sign a marriage certificate for a Jewish man whose bride-to-be is a Gentile.
What should have been a heart-warming story of love at first sight has turned into anything but. Last year, Artic Cooling regional sales manager Jamie Rubinstein stopped for gasoline at a mini-mart in Salt Lick, Kentucky (population 303). There, he met cashier Darlene MacAllister and the two fell head-over-heels in love. Engaged after four months, the happy couple decided to marry at the Bath County offices in Owingsville, just as Darlene's mother and grandmother had done. Rubinstein promised his fiancée, a member of the nearby Morehead Apostolic Christian Church, that he would convert to her faith following their wedding.
But Schlomo Boteach had other plans. When Rubinstein and MacAllister showed up at his office, the Conservative Jew refused to issue their license. As the Bath County clerk explained:
"I am acting God's authority. To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God's definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. I cannot be an accomplice to intermarriage that will doom my people, the Jewish people."
The issue of intermarriage has long been a difficult and painful one for many American Jews. But a 2013 Pew Research Center survey found that 44 percent of U.S. Jews were married to a non-Jewish spouse. The figure reached 58 percent for those wed after 2005. Despite those numbers, the Pew data also show that more adult children of intermarried couples are now identifying as Jewish. Nevertheless, even Democratic Congresswoman and DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz told a Florida audience earlier this year, "We have the problem of assimilation. We have the problem of intermarriage."
For their part, Rubinstein and MacAllister are threatening legal action against Boteach if he doesn't change his mind. In response, the Bath County clerk declared he is "as unchanging as the Torah" and will fight the couple all of the way to Supreme Court in what some are calling "the Shiksa Appeal."
In the meantime, the Bath County imbroglio is providing a helpful case study for defenders of supposed "religious liberty." Those like Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz who tout America's "Judeo-Christian" tradition will have to choose between their people and God's Chosen People. So grab the popcorn and see who Kim Davis' defenders support--and why.
Note: The Bath County scenario described above is completely fictitious. But it and many others like it highlight the hypocrisy of the "religious freedom" crowd for whom the liberty in question is often reserved "for me, not thee."