Reactions To Kim Davis' Jailing Show That Americans Are Divided Over What Religious Freedom Really Means
When Judge David Bunning ordered for the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples to be taken to jail for contempt of court, Twitter exploded in reaction to Kim Davis' jailing. On Thursday, Davis was ordered to court, where she was found in contempt and put in jail until she complied with the law and issued marriage licenses. The case has been widely followed, as it is the first serious challenge to the Supreme Court's June marriage equality ruling that allowed gay couples to marry.
Davis, who is an Apostolic Christian, has repeatedly refused to issue any marriage licenses in Rowan County. Earlier this summer, Bunning ordered Davis to issue licenses, and her request for a stay were denied both by a local court of appeals as well as the U.S. Supreme Court. The day following the Supreme Court's rejection to hear her case, Davis continued to refuse licenses.
According to CNN, Davis was offered an alternative option — she could avoid jail if she allowed the deputy clerks who work below her to issue licenses in her stead. Five of the six said they would be willing to do so, but Davis refused the compromise. "You can't be separated from something that's in your heart and in your soul," Davis said.
The decision to jail Davis came as a surprise to some, as earlier in the week the American Civil Liberties Union had filed two motions urging Bunning to hold Davis — who was still collecting pay — financially liable as a means of pressuring her into doing her job. "We didn't ask the court to incarcerate her. ... He did what he thought was necessary," ACLU lawyer Heather Weaver told US News.
According to Weaver, Bunning's decision may have been impacted by testimony that indicated Davis' supporters would raise funds to help alleviate financial burdens. As expected, reactions to Bunning's order were passionate on both sides, as many felt it was the correct decision.
Others, however, were quick to defend Davis' actions and issue kind words to her.
However, there were still some who felt conflicted or wondered why she doesn't simply resign. In addition, many worried that she would become a symbol of resistance against marriage equality.
In addition to George Pataki and Mike Huckabee, other presidential candidates have weighed in on the decision. "I think it's absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty," Rand Paul told CNN on Thursday, and Bobby Jindal echoed the sentiments. "I don't think anyone should have to choose between following their conscience and religious beliefs and giving up their job and facing financial sanctions," Jindal told The Huffington Post. It isn't known how long it will be before Davis is released.