On Tuesday morning, David Moore and David Ermold returned to Kentucky’s Rowan County courthouse to obtain a marriage license. Kim Davis, the county clerk, had already twice denied Moore and Ermold a license because of her anti-gay Christian beliefs. But a federal judge ordered Davis to resume issuing marriage licenses, and both a circuit court and the Supreme Court declined to stay his ruling. Davis was out of legal options on Tuesday when Moore and Ermold requested a license.
Yet still, she turned them away. When the couple approached Davis, she told them that “we are not issuing marriage licenses today.”
“Under whose authority are you not issuing licenses?” Moore asked.
“Under God’s authority,” Davis told him.
Davis is now at real risk of being held in contempt of court. That’s disturbing for two reasons. First, it seems increasingly plausible that Liberty Counsel, the far-right fringe group representing Davis, is pushing her toward martyrdom to further their own anti-gay cause. Second, as some gay rights advocates have warned, the image of Davis being hauled off to prison would add a dangerous amount of fuel to the Christian persecution complex. I cannot imagine this standoff ending well for either side.
Update, Sept. 1, 2015: U.S. District Judge David Bunning has ordered Davis and her staff to appear at a contempt of court hearing on Thursday morning. The lesbian couple who asked Brunning to hold Davis in contempt of court requested only fines—not jail time.