Kentucky Clerk Held in Contempt of Court for Refusing to Issue Gay Marriage Licenses

Timothy D. Easley/AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


Update (9/3/2015, 1:09 p.m. EST): A federal judge has found Kim Davis in contempt of court. She has been taken into federal custody.

Explaining his decision, US District Judge David Bunning told Davis, “You don’t strike me as someone who’s contentious. I simply [find that] making this contempt finding is necessary.”

“Oaths means things,” he added, according to the Guardian. Davis will be released if she agrees to comply with the judge’s order to issue marriage licenses. “The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order,” the judge said.

Kim Davis, the defiant Rowan county clerk who cited “God’s authority” for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, appeared in court Thursday in Kentucky. Groups both supporting and opposing Davis held dueling, boisterous rallies in front of throngs of journalists outside the courthouse. US District Judge David Bunning heard a motion from lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union Davis arguing Davis should be held in contempt of court

The appearance came amid Davis’s ongoing failure to comply with the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that invalidated gay marriage bans nationwide. Since the decision in June, Davis has refused to issue marriage licenses to both straight and same-sex couples. Despite the Supreme Court denial of her emergency application requesting a delay on Monday, Davis continued to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, creating testy scenes inside and outside the clerk’s office, and drawing national attention.

The showdown in Kentucky, the first time the issue of same-sex marriage has returned to the Supreme Court since June, has become a lightening rod for gay marriage opponents who argue that Davis’ religious beliefs should allow her to defy the constitutional mandate. Both legal experts and same-sex marriage supporters say she has no legal standing.

The scene on Thursday:

“The ACLU has asked she be fined in an amount sufficient to compel her compliance to the court’s ruling,” Ria Tabacco Mar, an ACLU attorney, told Newsweek. “No one wants Kim Davis to go to jail, we just want her to follow the law and do her job.”

This is a breaking news post, and we’ll update with more information as it becomes available.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.