4 Sep 2015

US clerk jailed over same-sex marriage licences

8:32 am on 4 September 2015

A US judge has sent a Kentucky official to jail for contempt of court after she has repeatedly refused to issue marriage licences to gay couples.

Kim Davis

Kim Davis Photo: AFP

Kim Davis, an elected official in Rowan County, has said that her Christian faith should exempt her from signing the licenses.

The US Supreme Court declared gay marriage legal in June.

Ms Davis, who has said she is obeying "God's law," has been escorted out of the courtroom.

"You can't be separated from something that's in your heart, in your soul," said Ms Davis to US District Judge David Bunning, and said the Supreme Court's ruling conflicts with her beliefs as a born-again Christian. "I promised to love Him with all my heart, mind and soul because I wanted to make heaven my home."

The judge said he had "no alternative" but to jail her, because issuing fines would not change her mind.

"Her good faith belief is simply not a viable defence," said Mr Bunning. "Mrs Davis took an oath. Oaths mean things."

He added that letting one person's beliefs supersede the authority of the court would be a dangerous example to set.

Her five deputy clerks were told they may issue licenses to all marriage applicants and that they would also faces fines or jail if they refused to do so.

The clerks are due back in court on Thursday to say whether they would comply with the court order after meeting with public defenders.

Ms Davis' lawyer had claimed that the deputy clerks could only issues licenses under Davis' authority, but the judge overruled that objection.

Hundreds of protesters lined up outside of the federal courthouse on Thursday, chanting and waving signs both of support and opposition.

Local reporters tweeted photos of the two different camps in close quarters outside of the courthouse.

Protesters screamed "Love won! Love won!" outside of the courthouse after learning of the decision.

Ms Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses to all couples in June after the legalisation of gay marriage, turning couples away repeatedly.

The US Supreme Court on Monday rejected the argument that her faith prevented her from carrying out her duty.

"I have no animosity toward anyone and harbour no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God's word," she said in a statement.

She can only be removed from her position if the Kentucky legislature impeaches her because she is an elected official.

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 Ms Davis' decisions.

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