Why the Trending Hashtag #MLKim Is Absurd

September 4th 2015

It should probably go without saying: Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who is currently in jail after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, is pretty far removed from Martin Luther King, Jr. in ideology. Yet the hashtag, #MLKim, is trending on Twitter. 

The original Tweet, which was reportedly created by Davis' husband, shows the recent mug shot of the defiant county clerk alongside a mug shot of King, who was arrested in 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama, after helping to stage marches and sit-ins against racism and racial segregation in the South.


To be sure, both people pictured in the Tweet above stood up for their beliefs. But Davis actively denied the civil rights of same-sex couples to be married following the Supreme Court ruling in June while King actively advocated on behalf of the rights of minorities to live, work, and vote free of discrimination.

Under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Davis' right to believe that gay marriage is immoral is protected. However, there is no legal basis to her claim—or her lawyer's claim—that being ordered to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples substantially burdens her freedom of religion. The comparison between Davis and King, therefore, is based on a false understanding of the purpose and function of the First Amendment.

"[Davis] can’t be forced to attend a same-sex wedding, to participate in one, or to send a gift to the happy couple," Time reported. "But the First Amendment does not give her the power to decide whether same sex marriages are lawful in the State of Kentucky."

"That question was settled this summer by the Supreme Court, which ruled 5-to-4 that the U.S. Constitution guarantees the freedom to marry in all 50 states."

Here's how people are reacting to #MLKim on Twitter.

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