Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz has called on Americans to stand behind the jailed Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples – voicing the sentiment of most, but not all, of his fellow GOP White House hopefuls.
In a statement sent out Thursday afternoon, the firebrand Texas lawmaker called the ruling by U.S. District Judge David Bunning to jail Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis "judicial tyranny" and said that this is "the first time ever, the government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith."
"This is wrong. This is not America," Cruz said. "I stand with Kim Davis. Unequivocally. I stand with every American that the Obama Administration is trying to force to chose between honoring his or her faith or complying with a lawless court decision."
Bunning ordered a Davis, an Apostolic Christian, to jail after she refused to issue the marriage licenses. The judge told 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.
Davis stopped issuing licenses to all couples in June after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. Despite rulings against her, she's turned away couples again and again, citing her Christian beliefs and "God's authority."
The couples who originally sued in the case asked Bunning to punish Davis with fines but not jail time.
After her jailing, five of the six deputy clerks working under Davis have said they will issue marriage licenses to gay couples, despite their boss' refusal to do so. The lone holdout among the deputy clerk's is Davis' son, Nathan.
Cruz's comments echoed those of many other Republican presidential hopefuls, who cite argue that being forced to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples is an impingement on their religious freedom.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio argued that the U.S. needs to accommodate public officials who object to performing certain duties because of their religious beliefs. Rubio's fellow Floridian, former Gov. Jeb Bush said that while Davis is "sworn to uphold the law," he believes that "there ought to be common ground, there ought to be a big enough space for her to act on her conscience, and for now that the law is the law of the land, for a gay couple to be married in whatever jurisdiction that is."
While the majority of GOP candidates gave their support to Davis, there were three – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and former Silicon Valley executive Carly Fiorina – who said that as a government employee Davis was obligated to carry out the law.
"When you are a government employee as opposed to say, an employee of another kind of organization, then in essence, you are agreeing to act as an arm of the government," Fiorna said, adding the she still did not agree with the court ruling to jail Davis.
She added: "This woman now needs to make a decision that's conscious — is she prepared to continue to work for the government, be paid for by the government in which case she needs to execute the government's will, or does she feel so strongly about this that she wants to sever her employment with the government and go seek employment elsewhere where her religious liberties would be paramount over her duties as a government employee."
On the much less crowded Democratic side of the presidential race, frontrunner Hillary Clinton made it clear in a response on Twitter that she supports the court's decision to jail Davis for contempt.
"Marriage equality is the law of the land," Clinton tweeted, along with a link to an Associated Press story about the case. "Officials should be held to their duty to uphold the law—end of story."