ASHLAND, Ky. (AP) — A federal judge ordered a defiant county clerk to jail for contempt Thursday after she insisted that it would violate her conscience to follow court orders to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
Rowan County clerk Kim Davis and her deputy clerks were summoned to appear before U.S. District Judge David Bunning after she repeatedly denied them marriage licenses, cited her religious beliefs and "God's authority."
"You can't be separated from something that's in your heart and in your soul," Davis told the judge as she explained how the Supreme Court's ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide conflicts with the vows she made when she became a born-again Christian.
"I promised to love Him with all my heart, mind and soul because I wanted to make heaven my home," Davis said.
The judge said she left him with no alternative but to jail her, since fines alone would not serve to change her mind. She was escorted out of his courtroom by a deputy, although not in handcuffs, to be turned over to the custody of federal marshals.
The judge also told all five of her deputy clerks that they are free to issue licenses to all applicants, and also face fines or jail if they refuse to comply. He gave them a chance to meet with lawyers before returning to his courtroom to reveal their decisions.
The lawyer for Davis, whose defense is funded by the Liberty Counsel, a religious freedom group, argued that the deputy clerks can only issue licenses under Davis' authority, but the judge overrulled this objection.
Hundreds of people chanted and screamed, "Love won! Love won!" as word of these decisions reached the crowds outside the federal courthouse.
Kim Davis testified about 20 minutes and was very emotional. She described how she became a Christian and said she is unable to believe anything else.
April Miller, one of the women trying to obtain a license, also testified. She said she voted for Kim Davis in the election and that this was only about getting her license, not about trying to change Davis' beliefs.
In front of the federal courthouse, demonstrators shouted at each other, sang hymns and waved signs, which ranged from the violent — turn to Jesus or burn — to simple statements of support. A small plane flew over the courthouse, carrying a banner that said: "Stand Firm Kim."
Davis stopped issuing licenses to all couples in June after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage. Despite rulings against her, she's turned away couples again and again.
The couples who originally sued in the case asked Bunning to punish Davis with fines but not jail time.
Davis, an Apostolic Christian, said earlier this week she never imagined this day would come.
"I have no animosity toward anyone and harbor no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God's word," her statement said.
Her critics mock this moral stand, noting that Davis is on her fourth husband after being divorced three times.
Davis served as her mother's deputy in the clerk's office for 27 years before she was elected as a Democrat to succeed her mother in November. Davis' own son is on the staff.
As an elected official, she can be removed only if the Legislature impeaches her, which is unlikely in a deeply conservative state.
Judge Bunning is the son of Jim Bunning, the Hall of Fame pitcher for the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies who served two terms as Kentucky's junior U.S. Senator. Former Republican President George W. Bush nominated David Bunning for a lifetime position as a federal judge in 2001 when he was just 35 years old, halfway through his dad's first term in the Senate.
But Bunning has been anything but a sure thing for conservative causes. In 2007, he was part of a three-judge panel on a federal appeals court that overturned Michigan's ban on partial-birth abortion. The panel ruled the state's law was too broad and would outlaw other legal forms of abortion.
In 2003, Bunning ordered the Boyd County School District to allow the student club Gay-Straight Alliance to meet on campus.
Our righteousness is but filthy rags, we all do Kat.
Yeah I am hearing that she has been married 4 times, so how it's getting old and that argument is weak. I need to inform you that during her trial, she gave a powerful testimony that she had a life changing experience in 2011. Christianity means a conversion from the past, since recognized of her past, she will do whatever it takes to make God happy. Also to refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.
You guys really need to go back and brush up on Ellen White's end time prophecy - it contains nothing remotely similar to this event in Kentucky.
Great Shannon I am glad you read Prophecy of EGW. I do not think anyone said this event was about the Sabbath either. As your Prophetic eyeglasses do not let you draw some similarity between this event and the coming Sunday law, there is not a lot that can be done to convince you that there is some similarity between the two.
We should read the prophecy as Ellen White wrote it. What some people here want to do is take whatever the headline of the day is and force it to fit the prophecy, but this is all wrong for several reasons - nothing to do with Catholics (who by the way are against gay marriage), spiritualists, apostate protestants, Sunday laws, and the woman is not being forced into a gay marriage. And she has an out - she can simply resign the position.
Amen Shannon Glad you are living in your sheltered corner of the world, where nothing untoward may intrude.
Mostly what I see prophetically in this story, is the backlash that it is causing for Christians and the division in our country of those that will stand for God and those against. The same can be said regarding the recent planned parenthood debate. Many people feel Christianity is a dying and unneeded religion. Some are happy that the clerk is going to jail, so I think we can tell by this attitude, when a more legitimate complaint of religious infringement arises, that the masses will be even more intolerant when it comes to Christian beliefs. At least, that is the growing trend that I see.
Rev 18:7 (b) I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
Shannon said, "she can simply resign the position."
Exactly. She is in an elected position, if she cannot fulfil the duties of the role then, by faith, she should resign that post. She is attempting to impose her beliefs on others and therefore is fighting against religious liberty. The law of the land allows for gay marriage and she has no right to impose her beliefs on others. Religious liberty and the separation of church and state is a two-edged sword and just because someone has "the truth" does not mean that they can enforce their "truth" on others. Otherwise, why doesn't God just force us to stop sinning?
God isn't going to reveal every single detail of prophecy through Ellen White. God expects us to be diligent, study his word, and have a watchful eye.
I know this story has been a headline all week, but I don't see this as persecution or denial of a Christian to practice their rights. This clerk is instead combining church and state by refusing to give gay marriage licenses. In this case she is wrong as i believe her options are to do her job or step down. I suppose she could request a different position as well. So in this case the law is doing the right thing by standing for the separation of church and state.
However, one can see from this case that things will change in the near future. When a Christian or non-Christian is actually in the right according to the law, they will be refused or jailed for not complying due to a union of church and state.
I know this story has been a headline all week, but I don't see this as persecution or denial of a Christian to practice their rights.
I am more concerned with the racial violence which I find more disturbing rather than the hurt feelings of those who were denied a license they could go to the next county to get. To some extent I agree with you Ross, how ever the focus of the media and what the fact that the judge sent her to jail is quite the precedent.