FRANKFORT, Ky. — A Kentucky county clerk is facing possible fines or jail time now that the U.S. Supreme Court has denied a stay of a lower court order that she must issue marriage licenses to homosexuals despite her Christian convictions not to facilitate other’s sins.
“The application for stay presented to Justice Kagan and by her referred to the court is denied,” the court wrote on Monday without further comment.
As previously reported, Kim Davis, the clerk of Rowan County, has been the subject of a federal suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of two homosexuals and their partners, and well as two opposite-sex couples, after she declined to issue any marriage licenses of any kind following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.
But Davis also sued Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, after he declared in a letter that all county clerks must issue licenses to homosexuals despite their identity as a Christian.
“Neither your oath nor the Supreme Court dictates what you must believe. But as elected officials, they do prescribe how we must act,” he wrote.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge David Bunning ruled in the ACLU case, making similar statements as Beshear—that Davis may have the free exercise of religion in her private life, but cannot live out her convictions while serving as clerk.
While on the job, Bunning limited Davis’ Christianity to head knowledge about homosexuality as opposed to a whole-life identity that excludes her from being a facilitator of other men’s sins. (1 Timothy 5:22)
“Davis remains free to practice her Apostolic Christian beliefs,” he wrote. “She may continue to attend church twice a week, participate in Bible study and minister to female inmates at the Rowan County jail. She is even free to believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman, as many Americans do. However, her religious convictions cannot excuse her from performing the duties that she took an oath to perform as Rowan County clerk.”
Attorneys for Davis immediately filed an appeal and a request for a stay and counseled her not to issue any licenses in the interim.
Last Wednesday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Bunning and said that Davis must issue licenses due to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, denying the desired stay. Her attorneys then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which likewise rejected the stay on Monday.
Now that the nation’s highest court has declined to grant the preliminary stay, and her temporary stay expired today, it remains to be seen what Davis will do on Tuesday when she arrives at work.
“She’s going to have to think and pray about her decision overnight. She certainly understands the consequences either way,” Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, which is representing Davis, told the AP. “She’ll report to work tomorrow, and face whatever she has to face.”
According to the outlet, two homosexuals have asked Rowan County Attorney Cecil Watkins to charge Davis with official misconduct, which is punishable for up to one year behind bars. However, Watkins passed the matter on to Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, citing a conflict of interest.
While it is too soon to say what might occur if Davis continues to defy the order, it is also possible that she could be found in contempt of court and face a fine or jail time.
“Certainly none of those are appealing to my client,” Staver told reporters. “No one wants to be fined or go to jail and she’s always been a law-abiding citizen. She’s just caught in a very difficult situation.”