In a move that could spell the end of the saga of Kim Davis, a federal judge held the homophobic county clerk in contempt of court for defying an order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Davis, a
thrice-married thrice-divorced born-again Christian, refused to issue any marriage licenses in Rowan County because doing so would violate her conscience. When Judge David L. Bunning ordered Davis to do her job, she requested a stay on the ruling. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Davis’ request, as did the Supreme Court. Still, Davis refused to comply, stating that her refusal was based on “God’s authority.” Judge Bunning, evidently fed up with Davis’ stalling and clear lack of respect for the rule of law, decided to punish Davis with some much needed jail time.
Via The New York Times:
A federal judge here on Thursday ordered a Kentucky clerk jailed for contempt of court because of her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
. . .
“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.”
Judge Bunning said Ms. Davis would be released once she agreed to comply with his order and issue the marriage licenses.
Ms. Davis tearfully testified that she had not hesitated to stand by her religious views and defy the courts. “I didn’t have to think about it,” she said. “There was no choice there.”
. . .
Judge Bunning left little doubt about his thinking, and said Ms. Davis’s explanation for disobeying his order was “simply insufficient.”
“It’s not physically impossible for her to issue the licenses,” he said. “She’s choosing not to.”
While many observers had expected the judge to declare Ms. Davis to be in contempt, few believed he would jail her on Thursday. But Judge Bunning said he thought merely fining Ms. Davis would not be enough to prompt her compliance.
As marshals led her from the courtroom, Ms. Davis said, “Thank you, judge.”
Already Christian extremists are crowing about having been proven right when they said same-sex marriage would lead to the criminalization of Christianity. Gina Miller of RenewAmerica wrote that the “militant homosexualist [sic] movement cannot, and will not, coexist with those who stand against its tyrannical agenda” and that “Christian freedom is a specific target of these homosexualists [sic] who despise God, His Word and His people.” “Coach” Dave Daubenmire referred to Davis as a “persecuted County Clerk” and claimed to be “disgusted by the reaction of Christians regarding this whole homo-marriage fiasco.” Fox News pundit Todd Starnes Tweeted that the “federal government has started incarcerating Christians.”
Of course these zealots are moving the goalposts here. Their original argument centered around Christian pastors being jailed for refusing to marry same-sex couples or for speaking out against homosexuality. This has not, and will not, happen. Kim Davis is a government employee. Her job is to serve the people of the state of Kentucky, not preach about how certain couples will be going to Hell. Davis can certainly hold anti-gay views. She can continue to cling to an outdated definition of matrimony. She cannot, however, refuse to do her job and expect to hold onto it. In other words, she can be a preacher or she can be a county clerk. She cannot be both.
*Update: Kim Davis was actually divorced three times but is now on her fourth marriage. This post has been updated accordingly.