Kim Davis, the county clerk for Rowan County in Kentucky who refused to give out marriage licenses in defiance of the Supreme Court's decision mandating same-sex marriage recognition, is off to jail. A federal judge has found her in contempt of court. From USA Today:
U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning placed Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in the custody of U.S. marshals until she complies.
More than 100 protesters gathered outside the courthouse to bolster both sides of the debate.
Demonstrators lined the street, waving signs either with religious messages or calls for marriage equality.
Her counsel attempted to prevent the contempt finding by pointing out there were other ways to achieve the same goal, such as authorizing the state to hand out marriage licenses or somebody else in the office. But those would certainly require legislative fixes that most assuredly could not happen immediately and probably not something the judge could just order.
As for me, I've reached the point where I just want people to stop trying to find ways to punish each other. I do want gay couples to be able to get their marriage licenses in Rowan County and not have to go elsewhere. But I don't want Kim Davis thrown in jail. I generally don't want anybody thrown in jail unless they're a physical threat to people's safety or property. I understand why this decision happened and the legal principles behind it, but as somebody who celebrated when Gavin Newsom defied California law years ago and married off same-sex couples and who just recently wrote positively about a police chief refusing to arrest heroin users if they were willing to go to rehab instead, I find these kinds of punitive responses to nonviolent defiance deeply unsettling. That I disagree with the defiance and the principles that motivate it doesn't change my concern.
UPDATE: Five of the deputy clerks in Davis' office have told Judge Bunning they would be willing to issue marriage liecenses.
UPDATE II: Davis has said she will not grant her clerks authority to hand out licenses in her stead.
LEGAL INFO UPDATE: Some folks don't seem to understand that Davis is an elected official and simply cannot be "fired" for refusing to hand out licenses. Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed explains all the complications with trying to remove her that have led to this situation where the judge is left with having to find her in contempt.