A nun breaks into a government installation and pours blood on draft records to protest a war.
A suffragette chains herself to a White House fence to protest women's lack of voting rights.
A woman of color refuses to sit in the back of a bus in a challenge to racial segregation laws.
A young man compelled by the government to sign up for the military draft seeks to be classified "CO" -- conscientious objector.
A county clerk refuses to hand out marriage certificates to gay couples to oppose same-sex marriage laws.
In other news, Kim Davis, the infamous county clerk from Kentucky, met privately with the Pope when he was in Washington. Purportedly, he praised her for her courage, presumably in defending her religious views. On the plane home after his trip he told reporters, in response to the Kim Davis visit, “conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right.”
Because of the emotions around the case -- not to mention the question about which side is more on the side of justice and morality -- it's hard to separate Kim Davis's stance on gay marriage (which I find to be both immoral and unjust) from her right as a human person to refuse to be made party to laws and customs that she doesn't agree with. Maybe she--with her four marriages and out-of-wedlock pregnancies--is not the perfect poster child for a moral issue. But isn't redemption and repentance a possibility for all people? Maybe she is trying to be a martyr for a cause that many find to be troubling. Isn't that her right? Maybe she is being used by politicians and church leaders trying to push an agenda. But who isn't?
I detest what Kim Davis stands for, the denial of basic rights to gay people, as much as I detested Governor George Wallace blocking blacks students from integrating a school or some racist bumpkin flying the Confederate flag from his porch. But I have to grudgingly support her right to do express her beliefs, even when it is in opposition to the law.
Time will tell whether the majority of the country and the world will come to see Kim Davis as the hero of a noble fight to end the "plague" of gay marriage, or as the symbol of a pathetic last gasp to impose one version of biblical morality on her countrymen. In the long run, I'm counting on the latter view.
But as much as the pope is risking his undeserved reputation as a liberal to say so, he is right about the part of the Kim Davis story that revolves around her right to object to laws she finds to be immoral. His church also happens to support the other, gay-rights-denying part of her story. TIme will tell whether he is as forceful on that front as he has been on the first.