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KY Clerk Jailed for Contempt on Gay Marriage

ASHLAND, Ky. (CN) - Court clerk Kim Davis has been ordered to jail after a federal judge held her in contempt of court for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The much-publicized saga of Davis, a Christian clerk in Rowan County, Ky., ended on Thursday as she was escorted into custody by U.S. marshals.

U.S. District Court Judge David L. Bunning told Davis that "the idea of natural law superceding this court's authority would be a dangerous precedent indeed," according to a Washington Post report.

Demonstrators on both sides of the argument gathered outside the Carl D. Perkins federal building in Ashland on Thursday morning.

One supporter of Davis spoke through a bullhorn and told her opponents that "hell is waiting for you. The only answer is Jesus Christ to stop you from being a homosexual, stop you from being a lesbian."

Davis has refused to issue marriage licenses to any couples, gay or straight, since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex unions earlier this year.

She claims her beliefs as an Apostolic Christian prevent her from sanctioning the unions. Opponents have argued that Davis should resign her post if she is unwilling to enforce the law.

Davis issued a statement earlier this week through Liberty Counsel, saying she has done her job well and intends to continue working as county clerk.

"I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage," Davis said. "To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God's definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision."

In a statement after filing contempt motions against Davis earlier this week, American Civil Liberties Union legal director Steven Shapiro said that public officials are supposed to enforce the law, not place themselves above it.

"It is unfortunate that we've been compelled to take further action today to ensure that the people of Rowan County can obtain the marriage licenses they're entitled to receive from their county clerk's office. The law is clear and the courts have spoken," Shapiro said.

Citing her status as a "devout Christian," Davis told the high court in her application for a stay last week that "she has never once raised a religious conscience objection to performing a function in the county clerk's office, until now."

"If a SSM license is issued with Davis' name, authorization, and approval, no one can unring that bell," her application said, abbreviating same-sex marriage. "That searing act of validation would forever echo in her conscience. And yet, the SSM Mandate demands that she either fall in line (her conscience be damned) or leave office (her livelihood and job for three-decades in the clerk's office be damned). If Davis' religious objection cannot be accommodated when Kentucky marriage licenses are available in more than 130 marriage licensing locations, and many other less restrictive alternatives remain available, then elected officials have no real religious freedom when they take public office. But such individual rights and freedoms so fundamental to liberty are neither absolutely surrendered at the entry door of public service nor waived upon taking an oath of office. To suggest otherwise creates a religious (or anti-religious) test for holding office - which the United States and Kentucky Constitutions expressly forbid." (Parentheses in original.)

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