Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who blew up the internet with her refusal to issue a marriage license to a gay couple, now finds herself in jail.
Davis was ordered by U.S. District Court Judge David L. Bunning to instruct her office—which includes five deputy clerks—to immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to all eligible applicants. At 3:30pm on Thursday, September 4, Davis was scheduled to return to Judge Bunning’s courtroom to declare whether she intended to comply with the court’s order or continue her defiant noncompliance with the duties of her office. It was then that Davis reiterated she would not be issuing marriage licenses, and would not be permitting her staff to do so either.
At the conclusion of the proceedings, Judge Bunning stated, “The court doesn’t do this lightly, ma’am. You don’t strike me as someone who is contentious or combative….In this country, we live in a society of laws. Our system of justice requires citizens—and significantly, elected officials—to follow the rules of the courts.”
After being placed in a holding cell, the court inquired as to whether Davis, if released, would allow her staff to issue licenses even if she herself held personal objections. After answering in the negative, and affirming she would instruct her staff to continue withholding marriage licenses from eligible applicants, the court ordered her imprisoned for “at least a week.”
Shortly thereafter, U.S. Marshals handcuffed Davis and led her from the district court to an awaiting transport vehicle.
Clerk’s office open for business
Following Davis’s incarceration, 4 of the 5 deputy clerks working for Rowan County have voiced their intentions to fulfill the duties of their jobs – including the issuance of marriage licenses to all eligible applicants. The one holdout, Nathan Davis, Kim’s son, indicated he will continue refusing to do so, thus defying court orders, state law, and federal mandate.
While it remains unclear whether Deputy Davis will face similar contempt repercussions, the Rowan County clerk’s office resumed business as usual on Friday, and has granted several licenses to same- and opposite-sex couples alike.
Whether you view this episode as an expression of personal faith, a dereliction of the duties entrusted to a public office, or a reaffirmation of freedom from religious oppression—or as all of the above—the Davis clan has definitely succeeded in creating a media circus. As one journalist aptly described the scene, “Marriage is a sacred union between two people who love each other…..and roughly 85 reporters.”