Clerk Jailed for Refusing to Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Country: United States

Date of incident: September 3, 2015

Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky, has been jailed for "contempt of court" after defying a federal court order to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.

An Apostolic Christian, Ms. Davis has refused to issue any marriage licenses since the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. She has said that that signing her name on a [gay] marriage certificate would be a “searing act of validation” that would “forever echo in her conscience”.
On the witness stand on September 3rd, Ms. Davis said, “Marriage is between one man and one woman.” When one of her lawyers asked whether she approved of same-sex marriage, she replied, “It’s not of God.”
After her lawyers said she stands by her conscience and would continue to refuse to comply with federal court orders that she begin issuing gay marriage licenses, the judge said, "Her good faith belief is simply not a viable defense." Ms. Davis was found in contempt of court and sent to jail until she changes her mind.
Ms. Davis’s attorney Roger Gannam said that it is "the first time in history an American citizen has been incarcerated for having the belief of conscience that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.”
According to the New York Times, 
“Amid complex questions about the scope of the judge’s authority and the application of Kentucky law, it was unclear how long Ms. Davis might remain jailed. Civil contempt is a murky area that is largely dependent on the discretion of the judge whose will has been defied.”
“Civil contempt is not supposed to be punitive; it’s supposed to coerce the person to obey the judge’s order,” said Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Once she promises to obey, or once the judge determines that more jail time will not encourage her to obey, they’ll let her out. But she could be in there for a year; it’s conceivable. Judges really don’t like it when people disobey their order.”