While Britain and the rest of Europe are taken up with the refugee crisis, in America the culture war has taken a new turn, though you would be lucky to spot this from reading the British press or watching our television news.
What has happened is this: in Kentucky, a lady called Kim Davis, who is a county clerk, has refused to issue a wedding licence for a same sex couple, on religious grounds. Incredibly, she has been sent to jail. The headline in the New York Times is pretty straightforward: “Clerk in Kentucky chooses jail over deal on same sex marriage.”
A Brit like myself has not really got much of a clue as to how the American system works, and just what the duties and rights of a county clerk are, but one thing seems certain. Mrs Davis is now a martyr for the cause of traditional marriage. I find it incredible that she has been jailed, because the judge who sent her down clearly does not mind making martyrs, and could, as requested, have fined her. But he actually chose to jail her. So this indicates that both sides are up for a fight. My guess, and it is no more than a guess, is that we will see plenty more “law-breakers” like Mrs Davis going to jail in the name of religious liberty, just as once we saw lots of Americans getting themselves arrested in the cause of civil rights.
It is extraordinary that there is no conscience clause with regard to same sex marriage. The proponents of same sex marriage made their case on the basis of a right to get married, a freedom to choose marriage irrespective of sexual orientation. (That freedom and that right is imaginary, as I have said before now.)
But the very same people now deny the rights and freedoms of religious people not to have anything to do with same sex marriage. Once more we see the way something moves from being optional to being compulsory. Mrs Davis is in fact not the first person to be persecuted for not agreeing with same sex marriage. Neither is she the first to suffer from the tyranny of lawyers.
She is a brave woman. I hope she is comforted by the fact that people all over the world are on her side. Let us hope the judiciary in America see sense, and see it soon.