NEW YORK -- A clerk in Kentucky was jailed on Thursday for refusing to comply with a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Following the Supreme Court decision in June that allowed equal-marriage across all 50 states, Kim Davis, a thrice-divorced Apostolic Christian, steadfastly refused to carry out her duty as a government employee, citing “God’s authority” for the denial of service.
Davis, who was found in contempt by Judge David L. Bunning, argued that should she not be compelled to carry out duties that conflict with her religious beliefs.
Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk of Courts, listens to Robbie Blankenship and Jesse Cruz as they speak with her at the County Clerks Office on September 2, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky
Howerver, Bunning told the 57-year-old that the court "cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order," adding: “If you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that’s what potentially causes problems.”
Davis is an elected official so cannot be fired from her position. As such, she will remain in jail until she agrees to issue the licenses. Speaking through tears, Davis stated in court that “marriage is between one man and one woman,” and that she “didn’t have to think about” taking her stance. “There was no choice there,” she added.
Unconvinced, the judge called her excuse “insufficient,” noting: “It’s not physically impossible for her to issue the licenses. She’s choosing not to.”
After the decision, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said: “Every public official is subject to the rule of law. No one is above the law. That applies to the president of the United States and it applies to the clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky."
However, Rand Paul, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, told CNN it was “absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberties.”
After his client was sent to jail, Davis' attorney Mat Staver released a statement saying he was "stunned at this development."
"Kim Davis is being treated as a criminal because she cannot violate her conscience," the statement read. "While she may be behind bars for now, Kim Davis is a free woman. Her conscience remains unshackled. This is not the kind of America the Founders envisioned or that most Americans want."