ASHLAND, Ky. — A defiant county clerk refused a judge’s compromise offer on gay marriage that could have kept her out of jail on Thursday, saying she can’t promise not to interfere as her deputy clerks follow the law.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning said he had no choice but to jail Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis for contempt after she insisted that her “conscience will not allow” her to follow federal court rulings on gay marriage.
“God’s moral law conflicts with my job duties,” Davis told the judge before a federal marshal escorted her out. “You can’t be separated from something that’s in your heart and in your soul.”
The judge later sought a resolution to keep Davis out of jail after all. He overruled an objection from her lawyer, who argued that her six deputy clerks cannot act against her authority. And he called each one before him to declare whether they intend to follow the law. All but the clerk’s son, Nathan Davis, promised to comply.
The judge said Nathan Davis’ position wouldn’t matter, and that his mother could go free as long as she promised not to interfere with issuing of marriage licenses to all couples. But Kim Davis rejected the offer, her attorneys later said.
With that, the hearing ended, and the saga was sure to continue Friday, as gay and lesbian couples vowed to return to the Rowan County clerk’s office yet again in hopes that the deputy clerks would keep their promises.
Bunning said it would set up a “slippery slope” to allow an individual’s ideas to supersede the courts’ authority.