A county clerk in Kentucky refused to provide marriage licenses to gay couples Tuesday despite a Supreme Court injunction, saying that she was operating “under the authority of God.”
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis had stopped issuing all marriage certificates in mid-August following the high court’s landmark June 26 ruling legalizing gay marriage in the United States.
Davis had filed suit in federal court, arguing that her Christian religious beliefs should exempt her from the ruling. A federal judge however disagreed.
Davis appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court and sought an emergency stay, but the court rejected her motion.
On Tuesday, at least two gay couples entered the small county courthouse in Morehead, Kentucky demanding that Davis issue them marriage licenses. They were trailed by television cameras, reporters and gay rights activists.
“We are not issuing marriage licences today,” Davis said, according to footage recorded by a reporter for the local Courier-Journal newspaper.
“Under whose authority?” demanded one of the men seeking to get married. He accused Davis of discrimination.
“Under God’s authority,” she replied.
“My beliefs cannot be separated from me,” Davis added. “I’m willing to face my consequences, as you all will face your consequences when it comes time for judgment.”
When the couples said they would not leave until they were issued a license, Davis said: “Then you’re going to have a long day.”
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear in July ordered all county clerks to obey the Supreme Court’s ruling and allow same-sex marriages to take place, or resign.
On Tuesday the American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion to find Davis in contempt of court for refusing to issue the licenses. ACLU said the court set a contempt hearing for Thursday.
“This is overwhelming. It feels ridiculous,” said David Moore, who with his partner David Ermold was turned away by Davis, according to the daily.
“Who has to go through this to get married? This is 2015. This is America,” Moore added. “This is what we pay taxes for — to be treated like this.”
Until the US Supreme Court’s historic June ruling, the country’s 50 states formed a legal patchwork: some states had already legalized gay marriage, while others were forced to do so by federal courts, and others had continued to ban it.