Kim Davis — the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who has recently become famous for her staunch refusal to grant marriage licenses after the Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage in June — was jailed Thursday after being found in contempt of court. Davis stopped granting marriage certificates after the Supreme Court's ruling, and now she will be jailed until she complies with the U.S. district judge's order to issue the licenses to all couples. But what will happen to Davis next? Could she remain in jail indefinitely, or will she be there only briefly? The judge hasn't said exactly how long she could stay in jail, but it looks like he is adamant that that is where she will stay for now.
The couple who asked U.S. District Judge David Bunning to hold Davis in contempt only requested that she be forced to pay fines. But Bunning said that financial sanctions were not enough to ensure that Davis would comply with the law. Bunning said that he worried that if he only fined Davis, she would use money raised by anti-gay advocacy groups to pay off the sanctions.
Davis told the court that she could not see marriage as consisting of anything besides one man and one woman. April Miller, one of the women who unsuccessfully sought a marriage license from Davis in Rowan County, told Bunning that Davis' view "marginalizes us again." Bunning agreed with that logic, and said that Davis' explanation for disobeying his order was "simply insufficient."
Bunning seemed to be taking the issue very seriously, though few people thought he would actually jail Davis. He seemed serious about keeping Davis there until she says that she will comply with his order. So for now, it looks like that is where she will stay. Bunning said that treating this case lightly could create a "ripple effect" in other parts of the country, with tax-funded government employees refusing to do a job that they took an oath to do:
Her good-faith belief is simply not a viable defense. Oaths mean things.
Davis stood behind her decision, and told Fox News that she is prepared to go to jail:
This has never been a gay or lesbian issue for me. This is about upholding the word of God.
Under Kentucky law, a county judge's executive can issue marriage licenses in the absence of the county clerk, according to Slate. As for Davis, she has three options as to what's next: She can agree to issue marriage licenses, resign from her job, or stay in jail. We'll see.