US clerk jailed for refusing to issue gay marriage licences
Published 03/09/2015 | 13:54
A defiant Kentucky clerk has told a US judge that she cannot comply with an order to issue marriage licences to gay couples because it would violate her conscience.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was jailed after she refused to comply with District Judge David Bunning's order.
Davis testified for about 20 minutes and was very emotional. She talked about when she became a Christian.
"You can't be separated from something that's in your heart and in your soul," she told the judge.
After she was jailed, hundreds of people outside the courthouse started chanting and screaming, "Love won! Love won!"
"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 she left him with no alternative but to jail her, since fines alone would not serve to 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 licences to all applicants, and also face fines or jail if they refuse to comply. He gave them a chance to meet with lawyers before returning to his courtroom to reveal their decisions.
The lawyer for Davis, whose defence is funded by the Liberty Counsel, a religious freedom group, argued that the deputy clerks can only issue licences under Davis' authority, but the judge overruled his objection.
April Miller, one of the women trying to obtain a license, also testified. She said she voted for Kim Davis in the election and that this was only about getting her licence, not about trying to change Davis's beliefs.
In front of the federal courthouse, demonstrators shouted at each other, sang hymns and waved signs, which ranged from the violent - turn to Jesus or burn - to simple statements of support. A small plane flew over the courthouse, carrying a banner that said: "Stand Firm Kim."
Davis stopped issuing licences to all couples in June after the US Supreme Court effectively legalised gay marriage. Despite rulings against her, she has turned away couples again and again.
The couples who originally sued in the case asked Mr Bunning to punish Davis with fines but not jail time.
Davis, an Apostolic Christian, said earlier this week she never imagined this day would come.
"I have no animosity toward anyone and harbour no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God's word," her statement said.
Her critics mock this moral stand, noting that Davis is on her fourth husband after being divorced three times.
Davis served as her mother's deputy in the clerk's office for 27 years before she was elected as a Democrat to succeed her mother in November. Davis's own son is on the staff.
As an elected official, she can be removed only if the Legislature impeaches her, which is unlikely in a deeply conservative state.