Judge Orders Defiant Kentucky Clerk Who Refused to Grant Gay Marriage Licenses to Jail

The embattled Kentucky clerk who has continued to defy an order that she begin issuing gay marriage licenses was ordered to jail after being summonsed before U.S. District Judge David Bunning for a contempt hearing on Thursday.

Bunning told Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis that she would be jailed until she complies with his order.

“Her good faith belief is simply not a viable defense,” Bunning said in court, explaining that he did not believe that fines would stop Davis from refusing to grant gay marriage licenses.

The defiant clerk, who has continued to cite her Christian faith in her refusal to comply, said “thank you” before being ushered out of the courtroom by a U.S. marshall, the Associated Press reported.

Clerk Kim Davis
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, right, talks with David Moore following her office’s refusal to issue marriage licenses at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Davis testified for around 20 minutes, during which she defended her position and shared how she become a Christian.

“You can’t be separated from something that’s in your heart and in your soul,” she said. “My conscience will not allow it. God’s moral law convicts me and conflicts with my duties.”

Bunning also said that deputy clerks in Davis’ office could risk jail time if they, too, continue to decline gay marriage licenses, giving them until Thursday afternoon to discuss the issue with public defenders, USA Today reported.

The Associated Press reported on Thursday afternoon that five of the county’s deputy clerks agreed to issue licenses, despite Davis’ decision not to; her son, Nathan Davis — who is the sixth deputy clerk — did not agree to do so. That said, not long after, the outlet reported the following: “Kentucky clerk remains in jail, refuses to authorize her deputies to grant marriage licenses.”

The contempt hearing for Davis came after a last-minute attempt from Kentucky State Senate President Robert Stivers to urge Bunning to stay his ruling that would force Davis to issue gay marriage licenses, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

Stivers had been hoping that the state legislature could pass legislation that would exempt her from issuing same-sex licenses, but the legislature is on recess until next year. The last-minute move would have granted both Davis — and officials — more time to grapple with the issue, though it was clearly not granted.

Emotions were running high outside a federal courthouse in Ashland, Kentucky, before Bunning issued his decision, as hundreds showed up to support their cause. While some rallied in support of gay marriage, others defended Davis.

See some of the chanting below:

In contrast, a street preacher implored gay protesters to confess their sins:

Davis has repeatedly said that granting gay marriage licenses is precluded by her Christian faith, telling conservative commentator Todd Starnes before Thursday’s hearing that she was fully willing to go to jail.

“I’ve weighed the cost and I’m prepared to go to jail, I sure am,” she said. “This has never been a gay or lesbian issue for me. This is about upholding the word of God.”

Davis’ attorney, Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel, has argued that the government should consider alternatives to forcing Davis to participate in gay nuptials.

One option would be allowing the chief executive of Rowan County to grant licenses.

“He can do it in the absence of the clerk and he was willing to do it,” Staver told TheBlaze earlier this week.

The other option is to have Davis’ name removed from licenses, as it currently appears on each document — something that she disapproves of in the case of same-sex nuptials, Staver explained.

“She is licensing something with her name on it that licenses something that is a sin and not an appropriate relationship in her Judeo-Christian beliefs,” the attorney said.