UPDATE: A federal judge has ordered a defiant Kentucky clerk to jail after she refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning told Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis she would be jailed until she complied with his order to issue the licenses. Davis said "thank you" before she was led out of the courtroom by a U.S. marshal. She was not in handcuffs.
Bunning also warned deputy clerks around the state that they could suffer the same fate should they refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
Davis has refused to issue marriages licenses for two months since the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. She argues that her Christian faith should exempt her from signing the licenses.
I’m very steadfast in what I believe. I don’t leave my conscience and my Christian soul out in my vehicle and come in here and pretend to be something I’m not. It’s easy to talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?
- Kim Davis, clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky
Liberty Counsel attorney Mat Staver, who is representing Davis, called the ruling “outrageous.”
“If this country has come to this point where a judge jails someone like Kim Davis for their religious convictions – then we have lost our religious liberty,” Staver told me.
He said Davis will be fingerprinted and photographed “just like a criminal.”
“This cannot be tolerated,” he said. “This is ultimately going to spark a huge debate around the country. This is not the kind of country – this is not the America that our founders envisioned.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Kim Davis could become the first Christian in America jailed as a result of the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage.
“I’ve weighed the cost and I’m prepared to go to jail, I sure am,” Mrs. Davis told me in an exclusive interview. “This has never been a gay or lesbian issue for me. This is about upholding the word of God.”
“This is a heaven or hell issue for me and for every other Christian that believes,” she said. “This is a fight worth fighting.”
Davis is the clerk of Rowan County, Ky. – a small patch of earth in the northeastern part of the state. She was elected last November – taking the place of her mother, who held the position for nearly 40 years.
It’s fair to say that issuing marriage licenses was something of a family business – until the day the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage.
Davis is a devout Apostolic Christian, and she knew that should gay marriage become legal, she could not and would not sign her name on a same-sex marriage certificate.
“I would have to either make a decision to stand or I would have to buckle down and leave,” she said, pondering her choices. “And if I left, resigned or chose to retire, I would have no voice for God’s word.
So when that day came, she issued an edict: No more marriage licenses would be issued in Rowan County. It was a decision that would bring down the wrath of militant LGBT activists and their supporters.
“They told my husband they were going to burn us down while we slept in our home,” she said. “He’s been told that he would be beaten up and tied up and made to watch them rape me. I have been told that gays should kill me.”
Liberty Counsel, the public interest law firm that represents Davis, says forcing her to issue same-sex marriage licenses violates her religious beliefs. But the courts don’t seem interested in that argument.
A federal judge ordered her to issue the licenses, an appeals court upheld that decision and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene. Should Davis continue to defy the law, she could be fined or sent to jail.
No matter what the court decides, Davis says she will not violate her religious beliefs – and she will not resign her post.
“I’m very steadfast in what I believe,” she told me. “I don’t leave my conscience and my Christian soul out in my vehicle and come in here and pretend to be something I’m not. It’s easy to talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?”
The mainstream media and the activists have been ruthless. They’ve portrayed her as a monster – a right-wing, homophobic hypocrite. She’s been smeared by tabloid-style reports on her checkered past. They’ve written extensively about her failed marriages.
It’s true, she’s been married four times. But what’s missing in the mainstream media coverage is the context. Her life was radically changed by Jesus Christ in 2011, and since then she has become a different person.
“My God in heaven knows every crack, every crevice, every deep place in my heart,” she said. “And he knows the thoughts that are in my mind before I even think them. And he has given me such a beautiful and wonderful grace through all of this.”
She once lived for the devil, but now she lives for God. She’s a sinner saved by grace.
“I had created such a pit of sin for myself with my very own hands,” she told me.
So how does she handle the reporters and talking heads who call her a hypocrite?
“All I can say to them is if they have a sordid past like what I had, they too can receive the cleansing and renewing, and they can start a fresh life and they can be different,” she said. “They don’t have to remain in their sin, there’s hope for tomorrow.”
Davis did not seek the national spotlight. She had no intention of becoming a spokeswoman for religious liberty, and she bristles at the idea that she is a hero of the faith.
“I’m just a vessel God has chosen for this time and this place,” she said. “I’m no different than any other Christian. It was my appointed time to stand, and their time will come.”
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is "God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values." Follow Todd on Twitter @ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.