Kim Davis, Kentucky Clerk who Refuses to Marry Same-Sex Couples, Jailed by Federal Judge
A county clerk in Kentucky who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her religious beliefs was found in contempt by a federal judge on Thursday and sent to jail.
The New York Times reports US District Judge David L. Bunning ordered Kim Davis jailed following a hearing at which the Rowan County clerk unsuccessfully argued that she should not be forced to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her anti-gay Christian beliefs. The Bible explicitly forbids homosexual relations, which are punishable by death under Old Testament law.
Davis was one of a handful of court officials, mostly in Southern states, who defied the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, the historic June decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
“The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order,” Bunning said. “If you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that’s what potentially causes problems.”
Davis was escorted out of the courtroom by US Marshals. The judge added that Davis would be released from jail when she agreed to comply with the law and issue marriage licenses to LGBT couples.
On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected Davis’ appeal of an August 12 ruling issued by Bunning instructing her to issue marriage licenses. But instead of complying with that order, Davis and her employees defiantly continued to deny licenses to gay applicants, again citing her Christian beliefs.
“I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus himself regarding marriage,” Davis, who has been married four times, said in the statement released by her lawyers. “To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience.”
It is not a light issue for me, it is a heaven or hell decision,” added Davis, a reference to the Christian belief that the ‘souls,’ or immortal spirits, of Christians who accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior live on for eternity with the deity figure ‘God’ in ‘Heaven,’ while the ‘souls’ of unrepentant ‘sinners,’ or those who transgress against divine law by committing immoral acts, burn for eternity in ‘Hell’ with ‘Satan,’ ‘God’s’ evil arch-nemesis.
Although the existence of ‘God,’ ‘Satan,’ ‘Heaven’ and ‘Hell’ have never been proved, and although the separation of church and state has always been a core principle of American governance, Davis repeatedly cited her religious objections to LGBT equality in refusing marriage licenses to the people who contribute to her salary through their tax dollars.
Responding to those who have called her a “hypocrite” for opposing gay marriage while having three divorces and having two children out of wedlock—both of which are forbidden according to her religion’s beliefs, Davis told the Guardian that while she was “not perfect,” she is “forgiven by the Lord and must be obedient to Him and the Word of God.”
Supporters and opponents of Davis—mostly the former—gathered and shouted at each other outside the federal courthouse in Ashland hours before she was due to appear at her hearing. Some carried signs with slogans like “Jesus Saves,” “Homo sex is sin” and “We must obey God rather than human beings!” Religious liberty—including the liberty to discriminate on religious grounds—was a prominent theme.
“They’re taking rights away from Christians,” Danny Kinder, a 73-year-old retiree from Morehead, told the New York Times. “They’ve overstepped their bounds. I’ve been praying about it, and we just have to turn it over to the Lord. [Davis] has got to stand for what she believes, and I have to stand for what I believe, and I’m behind her 100 percent.”
“We’re supporters of the rule of the law,” countered West Virginia computer programmer David Wills. “It’s just really important to me that people be treated equally, fairly.”
“I’m here to support equal rights for all,” Lana Bailey, 20, of Worthington told CNN. “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.”
On Facebook, Liberty Counsel, the Christian legal aid group representing Davis, blasted the plaintiffs who filed suit against the clerk as “militant homosexuals who … will be on her front step FORCING her to choose between obeying Scripture or going to jail.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who is running for president, told CNN that he thought it was “absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty.”
“If you want to convince people that same-sex marriage is something that’s acceptable, I would say try to persuade people,” said Paul. “But if we’re going to use the federal government… it’s going to harden people’s resolve on the issue.”