Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis was taken into custody on 3 September for contempt of court after she repeatedly refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, citing her religious convictions.
Following her arrest, five of six deputies in her office said they would begin processing the marriage licenses on 4 August. Davis's son, Nathan Davis, was the last one holding out. Several other deputy clerks had expressed concerns about issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples. Some based their reservations on religion and others on the legality of issuing the forms without an elected official's consent.
Despite her arrest, Davis said through her defence attorneys that she would not allow any of her employees to issue licenses in her absence, USA Today reported. "My conscious will not allow it," Davis told US District Court Judge David Bunning. "God's moral law convicts me and conflicts with my duties."
Bunning said he would be willing to lift the contempt charge against Davis if her deputies began issuing marriage licenses, but said he was reluctant to release her on 4 September in case she attempted to stop the process again. The judge said that allowing Davis to defy the court order would affect other county clerks.
"Her good-faith belief is simply not a viable defence," he said. While he stated he also has deeply held religious beliefs, he added: "Oaths mean things."
According to USA Today, at least two couples have indicated that they are planning to request marriage licenses at the Rowan County Clerk's Office on 4 September. Couples, whether gay or straight, have been unable to secure marriage licenses at the clerk's office since 26 June.
Davis told The Kentucky Trial Court Review that she was ready to head to jail for her beliefs. "I would have to either make a decision to stand or I would have to buckle down and leave … And if I left, resigned or chose to retire, I would have no voice for God's word."
Before being taken into custody, Davis told Bunning: "You can't be separated from something that's in your heart and in your soul."
While many cheered her arrest, Davis's lawyer Roger Gannam compared her to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. That comparison was rejected by Lara Landenwich, an attorney for the plaintiffs, who said: "Ms Davis is in an unfortunate situation of her own creation. She is not above the law."