Federal District Judge David Bunning held Kim Davis, the county clerk who has become a national symbol of anti-gay animus for her resistance to marriage equality, in contempt of court on Thursday. According to Dan Griffin, a reporter for local news station WSAZ, she was led out by U.S. Marshals. The judge reportedly said that financial sanctions were not enough to ensure her compliance with the law.
Davis, who claims that she is acting “under God’s authority,” refuses to issue marriage licenses due to her opposition to marriage equality. Bunning ordered her to comply with the Constitution, regardless, and a federal appeals court and the Supreme Court both denied her requests for a stay of Bunning’s decision.
As Bunning conducted the hearing, the sidewalk outside of the courthouse filled with protesters on both sides of the issue. Davis’s opponents chanted that she’s “got to go,” while her supporters screamed “repent” and “homo love is hate.”
Davis says that she is “prepared to go to jail” in order to maintain her stand against the Constitution, and that she believes that she is “a vessel God has chosen for this time and this place.” She also claims that “this is a heaven or hell issue for me and for every other Christian that believes,” so it is unclear what sanction Bunning could impose on her — short of a legally controversial move such as removing her from office — that would cause her to comply with the law.
It is worth noting, however, that the county’s judge executive may issue marriage licenses “in the absence of the county clerk, or during a vacancy in the office.” So if Davis is absent from her position because she has been jailed, couples in her county will once again be able to obtain marriage licenses.
Attorneys representing the same-sex couples in this case reportedly offered a deal, that Judge Bunning agreed to, which would allow Davis to leave jail if she permitted several of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. According to multiple sources on Twitter, however, Davis has refused this deal and elected to remain in jail.