US Kentucky official locked up for gay marriage refusal

Kentucky's rural Rowan County clerk chooses bars over approving same sex marriages

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

“It is about marriage and God’s word. It is a matter of religious liberty," Kim Davis

Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk, was taken into federal custody on Thursday, for repeatedly refusing to issue same-sex marriage licences, she has become the centre of attention in the US, drawing both criticism and support.

The Apostolic Christian, has been jailed for contempt of court by US District Judge, David Bunning, who stated that her religious beliefs do not free her from the obligation of signing the licences.

"Marriage is a union between one man and one woman," Davis said in court, while being questioned by her lawyer.

In a recent statement, she had stressed "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."

In a five-hour long hearing, Judge Bunning, said he had no choice but to jail her, because he believed issuing fines would not make a difference nor would they change her mind.

Bunning, later sought a ruling that would keep Davis out of jail. He told her six deputies, to resume issuing licenses on Friday, if they didn’t want to return back to court. All of them promised to follow the law except for the clerk’s son, Nathan.

The judge offered Davis release if she agreed not to disrupt her deputies issuing the licences, but through her attorneys, she refused to do so.

The 49-year-old clerk, had stopped issuing all marriage certificates in mid-August following the Supreme Court's historic resolution in June, that declared gay marriage legal. As a result, four couples filed a federal lawsuit in July starting the legal process.

There were hundreds of protesters from both opinions outside the federal courthouse on Thursday, chanting slogans and waving signs.

Also, many 2016 Republican presidential candidates backed Davis as others said she must do her job and follow the law.

One of the candidates Mike Huckabee tweeted "Kim Davis in federal custody removes all doubts about the criminalization of Christianity in this country."

The White House too commented on the matter saying that no public official was above the law. “Certainly not the president of the United States, but neither is the Rowan County clerk,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

Kim Davis is an elected official protected by the Kentucky law, which is why she can’t be forced to step down her post.

TRTWorld and agencies