21 September 2019
Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis was found in contempt of court for refusing to issue marriage licences to gay couples. Photo: Reuters
Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis was found in contempt of court for refusing to issue marriage licences to gay couples. Photo: Reuters

US county official jailed for denying gays marriage licenses

A Kentucky official was jailed after she repeatedly refused to issue marriage licences to gay couples.

US District Judge David Bunning found Rowan county clerk Kim Davis in contempt and drew a pledge from five of her six deputies to issue the licenses, Reuters reported.

But attorneys for Davis said she would deny them that authority, raising questions about the validity of any licenses they might issue, the news agency said.

The 49-year-old woman, who has emerged as a darling of social conservatives, has refused to issue licenses to any couples, gay or straight, since the US Supreme Court in June ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry under the US Constitution, citing her beliefs as a Born-Again Christian.

“Marriage is a union between one man and one woman,” the soft-spoken Davis told the court under questioning by her attorney.

Bunning warned the deputies they would be back in court if they refused to resume issuing licenses on Friday.

“I would hate to have to come back to Ashland,” he said, referring to the court venue.

He said it would be up to same-sex couples to decide whether to test the validity of the licenses.

Davis, who broke down crying earlier in her testimony, was led away by US marshals after the first hearing, where Bunning held her in contempt and ordered her jailed.

She did not attend the subsequent hearings, but communicated through her attorneys.

Thursday’s proceedings were the culmination of months of legal wrangling and refusals by Davis to abide by a judge’s order to do her job, drawing global attention and protests from those both for and against gay marriage rights.

Before and during the hearings, about 200 demonstrators gathered outside the Ashland, Kentucky, courthouse, some chanting slogans and many holding signs.

As word of the ruling emerged, supporters of same-sex marriage erupted in cheers.

Davis was being held at the Carter County Detention Center in Grayson, Kentucky.

Her son Nathan, the one deputy who would not agree to issue gay marriage licenses, was not jailed.

Various 2016 Republican presidential candidates, like Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Marco Rubio, have come out in support of Davis’ decisions, according to BBC News.

Others like Carly Fiorina, Senator Lindsey Graham and Ohio Governor John Kasich have said she must do her job and comply with the law.

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