ASHLAND, Ky. — A county clerk who, through her defiance of a federal court order to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, became a national symbol of religious opposition to same-sex marriage was jailed Thursday after a federal judge here declared her in contempt of court.
The clerk, Kim Davis of Rowan County, Ky., was ordered detained and later rejected a proposal to allow her deputies to process same-sex marriage licenses that could have prompted her release.
Instead, on a day when Ms. Davis’s lawyer said she would not retreat from or modify her stand despite a Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, Judge David L. Bunning of United States District Court secured commitments from five of Ms. Davis’s deputies to begin providing the licenses. At least two couples planned to seek marriage licenses Friday.
“The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order,” Judge Bunning said. “If you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that’s what potentially causes problems.”
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The judge’s decision to jail Ms. Davis, a 49-year-old Democrat who was elected last year, immediately intensified the attention focused on her, a longtime government worker who is one of three of Kentucky’s 120 county clerks who contend that their religious beliefs keep them from recognizing same-sex nuptials. Within hours of Ms. Davis’s imprisonment, some Republican presidential candidates declared their support for her, a sign that her case was becoming an increasingly charged cause for Christian conservatives.
“Today, judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny,” Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, said in a statement.
A lawyer for Ms. Davis, Roger Gannam, sharply criticized the ruling and portrayed it as a stark warning to Christians across the country.
“Today, for the first time in history, an American citizen has been incarcerated for having the belief of conscience that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” Mr. Gannam said after a hearing that stretched deep into Thursday afternoon. “And she’s been ordered to stay there until she’s willing to change her mind, until she’s willing to change her conscience …Read More