POLITICS
09/03/2015 02:07 pm ET Updated Sep 03, 2015

Kentucky Clerk Who Won't Give Marriage Licenses To Same-Sex Couples Is Going To Jail

Kim Davis says she's listening to "God's authority."

WASHINGTON -- The Kentucky county clerk who rose to prominence for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples is now headed to jail.

A federal judge on Thursday ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to be jailed for contempt of court. She has waged a personal war against the Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

Davis first defied an order by Kentucky Gov. Steven Beshear (D) for clerks to follow the law. After she was sued in federal court for her noncompliance and ordered to issue marriage licenses, Davis refused again. She sought a delay of that order and lost, so she brought her plea all the way to the Supreme Court, which this week effectively required her to comply.

She has since continued to defy the order, citing "God's authority."

The Guardian reported that U.S. District Judge David Bunning said during a court hearing Thursday that Davis would be jailed until she complied with his order to issue licenses. She was led from the courtroom by U.S. marshals. 

The same-sex couples suing Davis asked Bunning to hold her in contempt, but recommended financial penalties, not jail time. Davis argued in a court filing on Wednesday that it was impossible for her to authorize same-sex marriage licenses because the action "irreparably and irreversibly violates her conscience."

She also argued that there were "less restrictive alternatives" to a contempt ruling. She suggested she could deputize someone else to issue marriage licenses for her, or that the state could call a special legislative session on the issue.

Prior to the ruling, Davis told Fox News that she was prepared to go to jail. “This is a heaven or hell issue for me and for every other Christian that believes,” she said. “This is a fight worth fighting.”

Davis is an unlikely symbol of the conservative effort to claim religious freedom exemptions in response to the Obergefell ruling. She has garnered support from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). On the Hill, Republicans are backing legislation that bars the federal government from taking discriminatory action against a person or corporation acting in accordance with a religious belief against same-sex marriage. Some conservatives have gone so far as to endorse civil disobedience as a response to the ruling. 

As The New York Times reported, Davis is not the only government official who has taken a personal stand. She is joined by a clerk in Irion County, Texas, and a probate judge in Washington County, Alabama. But these pockets of resistance remain small. The nation has overwhelmingly moved to allow all Americans to marry the people they love.

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