The way Mike Huckabee sees it, the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling was “illegal, unconstitutional and unlawful” and thus Kentucky clerk Kim Davis is actually the only clerk in Kentucky, and possibly America, who is following the law by denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples. As Huckabee said on MSNBC last week, the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell has not yet come into effect because “you have to have enabling legislation” and neither Congress nor the Kentucky legislature have passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage.
Huckabee seems not to have considered the far-reaching implications of his legal theory, which, if correct, would mean that thousands of public officials across the country are violating the law by failing to enforce outdated codes that have been left on the books after being struck down by the courts.
The state of Georgia, for instance, only repealed its school segregation laws in 2005, more than 50 years after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Surely, Huckabee doesn’t think that such laws should have been implemented for decades after Brown v. Board of Education was decided.
Similarly, while the Supreme Court struck down state bans on interracial marriage in 1967’s Loving v. Virginia, Alabama only repealed its invalid anti-miscegenation law in 2000 following a popular referendum.
In an act of defiance that may be worthy of Huckabee’s commendation, the Louisiana legislature voted overwhelmingly last year to keep on the books the state’s “crimes against nature” law — which bans consensual oral and anal sex between people of any gender but had been used to target LGBT people — after fierce lobbying from Religious Right groups, even though the law had been overturned by the courts years earlier. This year, a Baton Rouge police officer arrested two gay men for violating the law, but his police department, recognizing that the law is not in effect, apologized to the men and didn’t press charges.
Like gay rights opponents, supporters of anti-miscegenation laws and segregation claimed that they were defending divine precepts against secularist judicial tyrants who were trying to act as God.
Mike Huckabee has frequently claimed that gay marriage violates God’s law and therefore clerks like Davis don’t need to recognize it since they only have to obey the law “if it’s right.”
Of course, Huckabee doesn’t get to become the authority in America who gets to decide what God’s law says and which U.S. laws it trumps, just as Davis doesn’t get to use a county office to impose her personal religious views on others.
Seeing that Davis has said that she would never recognize gay marriage because, in her view, it violates God’s law, even if Congress passed a law legalizing gay marriage nationwide, Davis would still feel justified in ignoring it…and we bet she would still win Huckabee’s support.