Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis couldn’t be swayed to heed a U.S. Supreme Court order legalizing same-sex marriage, so a federal judge remanded her to custody.
During the hearing, one witness told the court that Davis had denied her a marriage license three times, and when Davis took the stand, the clerk explained that she could not issue the licenses because of her religious beliefs.
American Civil liberties Union attorneys argued in a motion filed Monday that Davis “continues to collect compensation from the Commonwealth for duties she fails to perform.”
They said they didn’t want her to be jailed as punishment, but rather, the attorneys asked the court to “impose financial penalties sufficiently serious and increasingly onerous” to make her comply with the high court’s order.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning, however, apparently felt she deserved jail time, but he also told her she could avoid being incarcerated by complying with the Supreme Court order and telling her deputy clerks to do the same.
Celebrations and protests erupted outside the courthouse when those who attended the hearing exited the courtroom with news of the decision.
Davis, an Apostolic Christian who says she has a sincere religious objection to same-sex marriage, has refused to issue any marriage licenses since the Supreme Court decision in June legalizing same-sex marriage.
In court documents filed Wednesday, her attorneys argue that she shouldn’t be held in contempt. Instead, they argued, there are alternatives that would allow couples to get marriage licenses in Rowan County without going against Davis’ religious beliefs.
Among the options they offered were allowing other officials to issue marriage licenses in the county, distributing marriage licenses at the state level or changing marriage license forms to remove Davis’ name.
A large crowd, leaning mostly in support of Davis, gathered outside the courthouse before the hearing, many carrying signs. “Jesus Saves” read one, while another pointed passersby to the Bible’s Acts 5:29, which quotes Peter and other apostles saying, “We must obey God rather than human beings!”
“Government officials are free to disagree with the law, but not disobey it,” U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey said in a statement. “The County Clerk has presented her position through the federal court system, all of the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. It is time for the Clerk and the County to follow the law.”