By Candace Kellner
Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky who refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, has sparked a national controversy. Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in June that legalized same-sex marriage, Davis has refused to issue marriage licenses to both gay and straight couples.
On Thursday, Sept. 3, Davis was ordered to jail for being in contempt of court, CNN reported. According to CNN, the state legislature could pass a law that would remove the names of clerks from the licenses, but it won’t be in session until January. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear said that he refuses to call lawmakers for a special session to deal with the issue, CNN said. Beshear added that doing so would cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money,” according to CNN.
“The future of the Rowan County Clerk continues to be a matter between her and the courts,” Beshear said to CNN. “It appears that the citizens of Rowan County will now have access to all the services from the clerk’s office to which they are entitled.”
U.S. District Judge David Bunning told CNN that Davis will remain behind bars until she complies. According to Davis’ lawyer, Matt Staver, she has no plans to resign and will remain in jail until a compromise is reached.
After Thursday’s trial, Beshear announced that Davis’ deputies agreed to issue marriage licenses. Attorneys for Davis argues that she is unable to comply with the court orders because issuing same-sex marriage licenses “irreparably and irreversibly violates her conscience,” according to CNN.
A fellow Kentucky clerk, Casey Davis, who has no relation to Kim Davis, has protested alongside Davis on the same grounds. He told CNN that “we’ve not tried to prevent” same-sex marriages, and “we’ve only tried to exercise our First Amendment rights.”
“There were a lot of people that died for that right and I think we should be able to exercise it,” Casey Davis said to CNN.
Yet, American Civil Liberties Union attorneys contended that Davis has no legal basis to cease performing her duties.
“Government officials are free to disagree with the law, but not disobey it,” U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey said, reported by CNN. “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.”
U.S. District Judge David Bunning claims that he, too, was religious but that when he took his oath to become a judge, his judicial duties trumped his personal beliefs.
“Her good faith belief is simply not a viable defense,” Bunning told CNN.