A federal judge Thursday ordered Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis to jail for refusing to heed a U.S. Supreme Court order legalizing same-sex marriage, and she will stay there until she complies with the ruling.
Following his decision, U.S. District Judge David Bunning brought Davis’ six deputy clerks into the courtroom to find out if they, too, would refuse to issue the licenses. The clerks said they didn’t want to be held in contempt of court, and though some had the same religious beliefs as Davis, five of the six told Bunning they would issue the licenses.
Bunning said he would bring Davis back into court at 3:30 p.m., and if she agreed not to interfere with her deputies who issue the licenses, she could be released.
During Davis’ hearing earlier Thursday, one witness told the court that the clerk had denied her a marriage license three times, and when Davis took the stand to deliver her at-times emotional testimony, she explained that she could not issue the licenses because of her religious beliefs.
“You can’t be separated from something that’s in your heart and in your soul,” she told the judge, according to CNN affiliate WYMT-TV.
American Civil liberties Union attorneys argued in a motion filed Monday that Davis “continues to collect compensation from the Commonwealth for duties she fails to perform.”
They said they didn’t want her to be jailed as punishment, but rather, the attorneys asked the court to “impose financial penalties sufficiently serious and increasingly onerous” to make her comply with the court order.
Bunning, however, apparently felt she deserved jail time, but he also told Davis she could end her incarceration by complying with the Supreme Court order and telling her deputy clerks to do the same.
He said he didn’t believe fining Davis would convince her to comply with the high court ruling, especially considering that Davis had testified earlier that her supporters are raising funds for her and calling her office to offer financial support, WYMT reported.
Bunning said he, too, was religious, but he explained that when he took his oath to become a judge, that oath trumped his personal beliefs, the station reported.
“Her good faith belief is simply not a viable defense,” Bunning said.
Davis thanked the judge for his ruling, according to WYMT. She was not placed in handcuffs, but a U.S. marshal led her out of the courtroom.
Celebrations and protests erupted outside the courthouse in Ashland, Kentucky, when those who attended the hearing exited the courtroom with news of the decision. Chants of “Love won! Love won!” filled the air.
‘Respect the law; do your job!’
A large crowd, leaning mostly in support of Davis, gathered outside the courthouse before the hearing, many carrying signs. “Jesus Saves” read one, “Homo sex is sin,” read another, while one sign pointed passers-by to the Bible’s Acts 5:29, which quotes Peter and other apostles saying, “We must obey God rather than human beings!”
Lana Bailey of Worthington, about a 20-minute drive northwest of Ashland, brought signs as well, both of which seemed to address Davis: “My gay friends pay taxes which helps pay you… right??” and “Respect the law; do your job!”
“I’m here to support equal rights for all,” she said. “It’s just called respect. I don’t understand why we’re having this. Why are we spending money on this? … If you can’t do your job then you need to step down. You need to resign.”
Jason Porter, a pastor at Ashland’s Gospel Light Baptist Church, spoke for the other side and said he wasn’t at the courthouse “to bash people’s decisions and lifestyles,” but he worried that if people were allowed to continue doing whatever they want to do, “the floodgates will open to other areas of polygamy.”
He did not elaborate on how same-sex marriage was akin to polygamy, which is the act of having multiple spouses. Polygamy is illegal in every state.
Echoing those who cited Acts 5:29, he said he felt Davis had a right to refuse to issue the marriage license and, waving his Bible, he told CNN he bore no hatred toward gay couples and is merely standing “for the truths of my God’s word.”
“I just know the destruction that this brings. As a pastor, I see the background. I see the broken families. I see the AIDS. I see the folks dying of diseases and the brokenness of relationships,” he said.
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