In response to a report that Pope Francis met with Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refuses to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, White House press secretary Josh Earnest reiterated that Davis is not above the rule of law.
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“Our position about Miss Davis is quite clear: that the president believes strongly in the rule of law and that’s a principle that applies to those who are engaged in public service, starting at the level of the President of the United States but even going down all the way to the level of the Rowan County clerk in Kentucky," Earnest told reporters during today’s White House press briefing.
Earnest stressed that President Obama believes "religious freedom doesn’t grant us the freedom to deny our fellow Americans their basic constitutional rights."
Davis privately met with Pope Francis in Washington, D.C., last Thursday, as first reported by ABC News today.
Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Holy See Press Office, refused to confirm the meeting occurred, but added “I do not deny that the meeting took place, but I will not comment on it further.”
Pope Francis told reporters on Monday that it is the "human right" of government officials like Kim Davis who refuse to enforce laws because it goes against their religion.
"Conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right," Francis declared. "It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right. Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right. Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying ‘this right that has merit, this one does not.’"
“It is a human right and if a government official is a human person, he has that right," the pope continued. "It is a human right.”