A county clerk in Kentucky has been found guilty of contempt and sent to jail after she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because doing so would have violated her Christian beliefs.
Kim Davis, the clerk at Rowan County who made headlines last week for refusing to issue the marriage licenses, was found in contempt of court Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning.
According to the AP, Bunning chose a prison sentence over a fine because he believed Davis, who makes $80,000 per year, would not comply with his order if given a fine.
Bunning said that Davis will be released from prison once she has agreed to comply with the court order and proceed to issue marriage licenses. However, Davis explained that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on June 26 that legalized gay marriage nationwide conflicts with the vows she made when she became a born-again Christian.
"I promised to love Him with all my heart, mind and soul because I wanted to make heaven my home," Davis told the judge before a federal marshal escorted her out. "God's moral law conflicts with my job duties. You can't be separated from something that's in your heart and in your soul."
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which is representing Davis, said in a statement, "Everyone is stunned at this development. Kim Davis is being treated as a criminal because she cannot violate her conscience. While she may be behind bars for now, Kim Davis is a free woman. Her conscience remains unshackled."
About 100 supporters and opponents of Davis gathered outside the federal courthouse Thursday hours before she was due to appear.
"They're taking rights away from Christians," Danny Kinder, a 73-year-old retiree from Morehead, said of the courts," the New York Times reports."They've overstepped their bounds."
"I've been praying about it, and we just have to turn it over to the Lord," he said. "She has got to stand for what she believes, and I have to stand for what I believe, and I'm behind her 100 percent."
Davis first made headlines in July after she refused to follow an order from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky demanding that she issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
During the appeals process for the legal action against her, Davis was given a stay on the decision that expired on Monday. However, an attempt to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court failed.
"To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God's definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience," stated Davis on Tuesday.
"It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision. For me it is a decision of obedience. I have no animosity toward anyone and harbor no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God's Word."
Many supporters have rallied around Davis, including Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal.
Rand Paul, the Republican presidential candidate and a senator from Kentucky, told CNN it was "absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberties."
Rev. Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, also voiced his support for Davis, stating he is "thankful and proud" that Americans are standing up against the "evil being forced on us."
"We need more Americans who are willing to take a stand for religious freedoms and biblical values in our communities," he wrote on Facebook on Wednesday. "If we don't, we won't even recognize the America that our children and our grandchildren will be left with. Pray for Kim Davis and for our nation today.