Kentucky clerk's resistance to gay marriage lands her in jail | Reuters

ASHLAND, Ky. A Kentucky county clerk was jailed on Thursday for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, but a full day of court hearings failed to put an end to her two-month-old legal fight over a U.S

hidden September 04, 2015 04:15:07 IST
Kentucky clerk's resistance to gay marriage lands her in jail
| Reuters

Kentucky clerks resistance to gay marriage lands her in jail
 Reuters

ASHLAND, Ky. A Kentucky county clerk was jailed on Thursday for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, but a full day of court hearings failed to put an end to her two-month-old legal fight over a U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding same-sex marriage.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning found Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in contempt then elicited a pledge from five of her six deputies to issue the licenses. But attorneys for Davis said she would deny them that authority, raising questions about the validity of any licenses they might issue.

The 49-year-old woman, who has emerged as a darling of social conservatives, has refused to issue licenses to any couples, gay or straight, since the U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry under the U.S. Constitution, citing her beliefs as an Apostolic Christian.

Bunning warned the deputies they would be back in court if they refused to resume issuing licenses on Friday. "I would hate to have to come back to Ashland," he said, referring to the court venue. He said it would be up to same-sex couples to decide whether to test the validity of the licenses.

Davis, who broke down crying, was led away by U.S. marshals after the first hearing where she was held in contempt and then ordered jailed by Bunning. She did not attend the subsequent hearings, but communicated through her attorneys.

Thursday's proceedings were the culmination of months of legal wrangling and refusals to abide by a judge's order to do her job that had drawn national attention from those both for and against gay marriage rights.

"Marriage is a union between one man and one woman," the soft-spoken Davis told the court under questioning by her attorney.

WHITE HOUSE BACKS JUDGE

White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Thursday said it was "appropriate" for a federal judge to resolve the matter.

"No public official is above the rule of law, certainly not president of the United States, but neither is the Rowan county clerk," he said.

But Davis' jailing drew instant criticism from her supporters with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee tweeting, "Kim Davis in federal custody removes all doubts about the criminalisation of Christianity in this country."

Christian lobbying group Family Research Council said religious freedom in the United States was under attack and urged Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear to call for a special session of the state legislature to alter the law to accommodate clerks like Davis.

A spokesman for the governor did not have an immediate comment, but the governor had said calling a special session would be too costly.

Another Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, told MSNBC before the ruling that Davis had to abide by the Supreme Court ruling.

Before and during the hearing, about 200 demonstrators on both sides of the issue gathered outside the Ashland, Kentucky, courthouse, some chanting slogans and many holding signs. As word of the ruling emerged, supporters of same-sex marriage erupted in cheers

DUELING DEMONSTRATIONS

Some demonstrators chanted slogans like "God is great" or "Do your job," and many held signs or flags like the rainbow flag that is a symbol for gay rights.

Warren Howard of Ashland said he wanted Davis to do her job or quit.

"Seems like every time something backwards happens, Kentucky's on the sides of the backwardness," he said. "And the thing about it is, it's not true. Most of the people I speak to realize this shouldn't have went on for as long as it has."

More people came out in support of Davis. One man held a sign saying, "Don't make a moral wrong, a civil right."

Theresa Craig from nearby Carter County, Kentucky, said the courts were a disgrace for not backing Davis.

In court, Davis thanked the judge before walking toward the marshals to be taken away. She told Fox News earlier she was ready to go to jail for her beliefs.

“I’ve weighed the cost and I’m prepared to go to jail,” Davis told Fox in an interview published on Thursday. “This has never been a gay or lesbian issue for me. This is about upholding the word of God.”

Apostolic Christian beliefs are rooted in a literal interpretation of the Bible.

A Democrat, Davis earns about $80,000 a year in the elected office, according to state officials. In explaining his decision to jail her, Bunning said he did not think a fine would be effective.

Davis is being legally represented at no cost by Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based Christian religious advocacy organization.

Also testifying on Thursday was April Miller, who along with her partner Karen Jacobs, had three times tried to get a marriage license from Davis' office. They were one of four couples who sued Davis in July.

Back in Morehead, Kentucky, phones at the clerk's office rang busy and a sign on the door from Davis said the office was closed for the day as she and her staff appeared in Ashland for the hearing. The sign said the office would reopen on Friday.

(Additional reporting by Daniel Bases in New York, Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago and Ayesha Roscoe, Emily Stephenson and Lawrence Hurley in Washington; Writing by Ben Klayman; Editing by Howard Goller)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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