Kim Davis jailed over refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses


Kim Davis was taken into custody on Thursday

A judge has jailed Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis because she has refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

On Thursday, Davis and six deputy clerks from her office appeared before District Court Judge David L. Bunning to explain why they should not be held in contempt of court.

Both Bunning and the US Supreme Court had previously told Davis that she and her office could not refuse to serve same-sex couples while her case is on appeal, despite her personal religious beliefs.

The official told the judge that she could not agree to do so as “God’s moral law conflicts with my job duties”, explaining that she believes that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. “You can’t be separated from something that’s in your heart and in your soul,” she said.

Davis also refused to agree to a compromise in which she could be exempted from personally issuing the licenses but would allow her staff to do so without interference.

The New York Times reported that Bunning then ruled that fines would not be sufficient and that he had no option but jail her until she agreed to comply with the law.

“The court cannot condone the wilful disobedience of its lawfully issued order,” said Bunning. “If you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that’s what potentially causes problems.”

After Davis was taken into custody, five of her six deputy clerks agreed to start issuing marriage licenses to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples on Friday.

“I don’t really want to, but I will follow the law. I’m a preacher’s daughter, and this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Deputy Clerk Melissa Thompson told the judge.

In a statement, Liberty Counsel, the anti-gay Christian lobby group that has been backing Davis’ legal defence, slammed the woman’s jailing.

Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, said: “Everyone is stunned at this development. Kim Davis is being treated as a criminal because she cannot violate her conscience. While she may be behind bars for now, Kim Davis is a free woman. Her conscience remains unshackled.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which had sued Davis on behalf of couples she turned away, said the judge made the only decision that he could.

“We are gratified that our clients will finally receive their marriage licenses,” commented Steven R. Shapiro, ACLU Legal Director. “We have reached this point only because Ms. Davis chose to defy the court’s order and place her own personal views ahead of the Constitution. Ms. Davis had a choice to make and she has made it.”

When asked about the case, White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, said: “No one is above the law. That applies to the president of the United States and that applies to the county clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, as well.”

Following the legalisation of same-sex marriage by the US Supreme Court on 26 June, Davis ordered her staff to stop issuing all marriage licenses in her Kentucky county rather than be forced to recognise gay and lesbian unions.

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