A Kentucky County Clerk was jailed for five days after defying a federal court order to issue licences to gay couples.
According to reports in the New York Times, the woman, Kim Davis, was ordered to be detained for contempt of court, and later rejected a proposal to allow her deputies to process same-sex marriage licences that could have prompted her release.
Ms Davis, of Rowan County, Kentucky, said she would not retreat from or modify her stand, despite the Supreme Court ruling earlier this year legalising same-sex marriage.
Meanwhile, Judge David L. Bunning of United States District Court secured commitments from five of Ms Davis’s deputies to begin providing the licences. He said, ‘The court cannot condone the wilful disobedience of its lawfully issued order. If you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that’s what potentially causes problems’.
According to reports, 49-year-old Ms Davis is one of three of Kentucky’s 120 county clerks who contended that their religious beliefs mean they cannot recognise same-sex marriage.
Although she is a Democrat, some Republican presidential candidates declared their support for her, with one, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, stating that ‘judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny’.
At the time of writing, Ms Davis has been released from detention, to massive applause. ‘I just want to give God the glory,’ Davis said. ‘We serve a living God, who knows exactly where each and every one stands’ (MSBNC Live).
Her attorney said that she would abide by her conscience and that all licences issued since her incarceration were not valid. The case marks a contest between freedom of belief and conscience, and the state rules. Ms Davis was prepared to go to jail rather than change her conscience.