Hours after Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was taken to jail for contempt of court, five of her deputy clerks told a federal judge they would begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
A sixth deputy clerk, the 21-year-old son of Davis, continued to refuse to comply with US District Judge David Bunning’s order to issue licenses. But Bunning did not order the son jailed.
Licenses are expected to begin being issued beginning Friday (4 September).
Kim Davis returned to court from jail Thursday (3 September) where she was given the opportunity to be freed if she agreed to not interfere with her deputies issuing licenses.
She refused not to interfere.
Said Bunning: ‘OK, jail it is.’
The judge also said: ‘In this country, we live in a society of laws. Our system of justice requires citizens – and significantly, elected officials – to follow the rules of the courts.’
The American Civil Liberties Union, which is suing Davis on behalf of four couples refused licenses, had requested fines instead of jail time. But Bunning did not feel fines were sufficient punishment in the case.
Bunning told Davis last month that she or her deputies must issue the licenses but stayed his order until this past Monday as she filed an appeal with the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
When that stay expired, appeals court judges declined to renew it and the US Supreme Court also denied a request by Davis for a stay.
‘We are gratified that our clients will finally receive their marriage licenses it should never have been an issue,’ said Steven R. Shapiro, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
‘As Judge Bunning has made crystal clear, public officials may not ignore the law. We have reached this point only because Ms. Davis chose to defy the court’s order and place her own personal views ahead of the Constitution. Ms. Davis had a choice to make and she has made it. The judge then responded in the way he thought most appropriate to ensure that the law was obeyed.’