Joan Frawley Desmond, is the Register’s senior editor. She is an award-winning journalist widely published in Catholic, ecumenical and secular media. A graduate of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies of Marriage and Family, she lives with her family in California..
Today, U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to be placed in federal custody until she agrees to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Judge Bunning's decision followed Davis' failure to secure an emergency injunction from the U.S. Supreme Court.
According to USA Today, "The judge said that fines were not enough to force her to comply with his previous order to provide the paperwork to all couples and allowing her to defy the order would create a 'ripple effect.'"
"Her good-faith belief is simply not a viable defense," Bunning said. "Oaths mean things."
He said his ruling applied to two other Kentucky clerks who have also refused to issue marriage licenses.
Davis is standing her ground: "My conscience will not allow it," she said. "God's moral law convicts me and conflicts with my duties," she said.
Davis's lawyers from Liberty Counsel challenged the judge's finding. They argued that she "met a legal test for protection under federal law because her convictions created a 'factual inability' to issue licenses to same-sex couples."
Her lawyer, Roger Gannam, said the ruling marked a dangerous turning point for the judicial system:
“Today, for the first time in history, an American citizen has been incarcerated for having the belief of conscience that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”
Earlier this week, Davis maintained her position in a confrontation with two same-sex couples who arrived at the courthouse to demand that she provide marriage licenses, reported The New York Times.
When Davis refused, one man asked: "Under whose authority?"
“Under God’s authority,” she replied.
The Times reported that Davis' case "stands as the most conspicuous official resistance remaining to the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in June legalizing same-sex marriage, and it is one of a number of legal challenges centering on the obligations of public officials and private businesses who say same-sex marriage conflicts with their religious faith."
Could Davis be fired if she doesn't comply with the judge's order? The Times said that isn't likely. "In a conservative state, Ms. Davis is likely to find considerable support among lawmakers." Other options include impeachment, but that "would have to wait until the Legislature convenes again in January."