Jailed Clerk Becomes Symbol in Faith Freedom War
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Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis sits behind bars for refusing to issue marriage licenses to anyone in her tiny district.
In doing so, the Rowan County clerk has become a national symbol for many who oppose gay marriage because of their faith.
The gay couples suing Davis had asked that she be fined. But in a surprise move, the federal judge decided to put her in jail instead, saying a mere fine wouldn't be enough to bring about the desired result of compliance.
At the last minute, Davis rejected a deal to allow her deputies to process same-sex marriage licenses. That could have prompted her release.
"She's been ordered to stay there until she is willing to change her mind, until she is ready to change her conscience about what that belief is," Davis' attorney, Roger Gannam, said.
Within hours of the judge's order, several Republican presidential candidates declared their support for Davis.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said her imprisonment "removes all doubt of the criminalization of Christianity in our country."
"Who will be next? Pastors? Photographers? Caterers? Florists?" he asked. "This is a reckless, appalling, out-of-control decision that undermines the Constitution and our fundamental right to religious liberty."
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, also weighed in.
"Today, for the first time ever, the government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith. This is wrong. This is not America," he said.
Hillary Clinton disagreed, saying government officials should uphold the law.
The White House echoed that sentiment.
"The success of our democracy depends on the rule of law and there is no public official that is above the rule of law," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.
But a Wall Street Journal editorial suggested the Obama administration's position was hypocritical.
"We don't recall President Obama insisting on the 'rule of law' when his then Attorney General Eric Holder announced in 2011 that he wouldn't defend challenges to what was then the law the Defense of Marriage Act," the editorial read.
Meanwhile, protesters on both sides of the issue are up in arms in Kentucky.
"If you can't do your job then resign," a Kim Davis opponent said.
But a supporter said, "Today we came to stand for God and support our county clerk Kim Davis."
Davis had hoped Kentucky lawmakers would find a way for her to keep her job and her conscience. But the governor has refused to call a special session.
In the meantime, her deputies plan to follow a U.S. district judge's orders and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, starting Friday.
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