Judge Orders Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis to Jail Over Refusal to Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses
The Kentucky county clerk who has refused to issue marriage licenses following the Supreme Court's recent decision in favor of same-sex marriage will head to jail for contempt of court.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning had ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to issue those licenses to any qualified couples, gay or straight, but Davis refused, citing her religious beliefs. She appealed the order all the way to the Supreme Court, which declined to take up her appeal, leaving Bunning's original order in place.
One of the U.S. attorneys working on the case, Kerry B. Harvey, released a statement insisting that Davis follow the law: "Government officials are free to disagree with the law, but not disobey it. The county clerk has presented her position through the federal court system, all of the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. It is time for the clerk and the county to follow the law."
Davis's attorneys had requested that she not be sent to jail, that there were other ways for gay couples to receive licenses, but that did not sway the judge. He ordered her into federal custody until she instructs her staff to begin issuing the licenses.
The clerk's office has recently been the scene of much controversy, with gay couples repeatedly appearing and demanding marriage licenses, only to be turned away. Davis, an Apostolic Christian, says that her sincere religious beliefs forbid her from signing her name to a document approving a same-sex marriage. When asked under what authority she was rejecting the gay couples' requests, she said, "God's authority."
Supporters of both Davis and the gay couples who have been denied what is now a Constitutional right have been gathering at the clerk's offices as well as the courtroom where Judge Bunning issued his ruling. Thus far, no violence has occurred, though tempers have flared and there has been a good deal of shouting back and forth.