Kentucky clerk blocking same-sex marriages held in contempt, ordered to jail
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis talks with David Moore after refusing him and David Ermold a marriage license. AP photo
(NBC News) - Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who has turned away same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses, was found in contempt of court and taken into custody on Thursday.
Davis, 49, was in federal district court to appear before a judge after refusing to issue licenses to gay and lesbian couples in Rowan County. Davis, an Apostolic Christian, has said doing so would "violate God's definition of marriage" and infringe on her personal religious beliefs.
But District Court Judge David Bunning has previously said that she is bound by an oath of office to perform her duties under the law.
Davis, 49, faces stiff fines and even jail, although the plaintiff couples who first filed suit against Davis in July have not asked for that.
Bunning has upheld the Supreme Court's decision in June to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, and wrote last month after the contempt lawsuit was filed that the state is merely forcing her to do her job within the law.
Before the hearing, dozens of protesters on both side of the issue clashed outside of the federal courthouse in Covington, some in support of Davis for standing up for her beliefs.
While clerks in other states have made similar refusals, Davis' defiance is the most prominent, leading GOP presidential candidates to weigh in and casting a spotlight on her personal life as well.
It was revealed this week that she was divorced three times and had children out of wedlock before a religious awakening became a turning point in her life.
Davis, a registered Democrat, had worked as a deputy clerk for 27 years before voters in Rowan County elected her as clerk last November.
As an elected official, she can only be removed in a vote by state legislators, who don't reconvene in the State House until January. Despite her political leanings, she's likely to get much support from Republicans lawmakers.