From Jail, Kim Davis Still Refuses to Issue Marriage Licenses
Kim Davis, the rogue antigay clerk in Rowan County, Ky., who has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, citing "God's authority," has been held in contempt of court after refusing to abide by the ruling of U.S. District Judge David Bunning.
Shortly after the hearing began in the federal courthouse in Ashland, Ky., Thursday morning, Davis was escorted out of the courtroom in the custody of U.S. Marshals, ThinkProgress reports.
"The court doesn't do this lightly," Bunning said upon ordering Davis into custody, according to Reuters.
Hours after going to jail, Davis "rejected a proposal that would have allowed her deputies to grant same-sex marriage licenses," reports The New York Times.
Davis's attorney rejected the proposal — which came from the four couples (two straight and two gay) who initially filed suit against the clerk — that would have allowed Davis out of federal custody if she agreed to allow her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses, reports Lexington, Ky. TV station WKYT.
"Bunning agreed to the proposal, but Davis told him she'd rather stay in jail than allow her deputies to issue marriage licenses," reports WKYT. "Bunning ordered her back to jail."
Five of the six deputy clerks ordered to Bunning's courtroom agreed to issue marriage licenses, though one did so through tears, reports WKYT. "The clerk said she didn’t agree with it, but she would follow the order," reports the local station. "The lone holdout among the deputy clerks was Davis's son, Nathan. The judge said Nathan Davis won't face any fine or jail time since the other deputies agreed to issue the licenses."
In a statement issued this afternoon, the American Civil Liberties Union confirmed that five of the six deputy county clerks swore under oath that they would issue marriage licenses to all eligible couples.
"We are gratified that our clients will finally receive their marriage licenses," said ACLU legal director Stephen Shapiro. "It should never have been an issue. As Judge Bunning has made crystal clear, public officials may not ignore the law. We have reached this point only because Ms. Davis chose to defy the court’s order and place her own personal views ahead of the Constitution. Ms. Davis had a choice to make and she has made it. The judge then responded in the way he thought most appropriate to ensure that the law was obeyed."
Despite predictions and calls for the clerk to be fined for disobeying the law, Bunning did not impose a financial penalty.
"Bunning said fining Davis would have had no real impact because her supporters likely would have paid them for her," reports Louisville TV station WAVE.
Bunning's decision not to fine Davis but rather place her under arrest, goes against the stated wishes of the four gay and straight couples who sued Davis, as the plaintiffs had specifically requested that Davis not be put in jail.
She can be released if she orders her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to WAVE.
The Times offered a full report on the hearing, noting that Davis "tearfully testified that she had not hesitated to stand by her religious views and defy the court."
But that defense was "simply insufficient," said Bunning.
"The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order,” Bunning said, according to the Times. "If you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that’s what potentially causes problems."
During the hearing, Davis, an Apostolic Christian, was asked whether she had "the ability to believe marriage is anything else" other than the union of a man and a woman, as she had defined it moments earlier. Davis's response was "terse," according to the Times: "No," she said.
The attorneys representing Davis, who work with the right-wing nonprofit (and certified anti-LGBT hate group Liberty Counsel), had claimed in their latest filing that it was "impossible" for Davis to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples, as that would be a "searing act of validation that would forever echo in her conscience."
But Bunning flatly rejected that reasoning, notes the Times.
"It’s not physically impossible for her to issue the licenses," Bunning said. "She’s choosing not to."
As Davis was escorted from the courtroom by U.S. Marshals, she reportedly said "Thank you, judge."
Yesterday, Davis told Fox News host Todd Starnes that she was "prepared to go to jail" for her continued refusal to abide by federal court orders to issue marriage licenses to all couples.
Right Wing Watch notes that Davis, a self-identified Democrat who was elected to her position last year, will not step down as Rowan County clerk because she is "a vessel God has chosen for this time and this place” who wants to use the county office to spread "God’s word."
This story is developing. Check back for updates.