By James Higdon and Sandhya Somashekhar,
ASHLAND, Ky. — A county clerk who refused on religious grounds to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples was found in contempt of court Thursday and taken into federal custody.
U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning had been asked by plaintiffs in the case to slap Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis with a fine. But in explaining his decision to jail Davis, Bunning said fines would not be sufficient because Davis’s supporters could raise money on her behalf.
“The idea of natural law superceding this court’s authority would be a dangerous precedent indeed,” Bunning said.
“Thank you, judge,” Davis replied before being removed from the courtroom by U.S. marshals.
Davis has refused to issue marriage licenses to all couples, gay and straight, since the Supreme Court decision earlier this summer that same-sex couples have the right to marry. An Apostolic Christian, she has said it would violate her faith to put her name on a marriage license for two people of the same sex.
She was sued by several gay couples and was ordered by Bunning to begin issuing the licenses this week. But Davis defied his order and late Thursday expressed a willingness to be jailed for her beliefs.
“I’ve weighed the cost and I’m prepared to go to jail, I sure am,” she told Fox News’s Todd Starnes.
[The defiant Kim Davis, the Ky. clerk who refuses to issue gay marriage licenses]
Davis’s case has grabbed the national spotlight, with her supporters calling her stand an act of courage in the face of government intrusion on free exercise of religion and gay rights supporters describing it as a desperate last gasp in the wake of the Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage nationally.
The two factions were on vivid display outside the Carl D. Perkins Federal Building, where hundreds of protesters gathered on the front sidewalk and across the street. That Davis would be jailed sent cheers through the gay rights supporters, while opponents expressed bewilderment and anger that the judge would take things so far.
“Everyone is stunned by this development,” Mat Staver, chairman of the Liberty Counsel, a Christian legal organization representing Davis, said in a statement, “Kim Davis is being treated as a criminal …Read More