A federal judge ordered a defiant county clerk to jail for contempt yesterday 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 US 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 legalising 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 Davis left him with no alternative but to jail her, since fines alone would not 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.
Hundreds of people chanted and screamed, “Love won! Love won!” as word of these decisions reached the crowds outside the federal courthouse.
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 Davis in the election and that this was only about getting her license, not about trying to change Davis’ beliefs.
In front of the courthouse, demonstrators shouted at each other, sang hymns and waved signs, which ranged from the violent to simple statements of support.