Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who spent her fourth day behind bars Sunday, has filed an appeal notice of the judge's decision that put her in a Kentucky jail for failing to follow his order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Attorneys representing Davis announced Sunday that they had filed a notice of appeal of last week's ruling by District Court Judge David L. Bunning that held the clerk in contempt for failing to issue the licenses. Davis argued that her religious beliefs prevented her from signing or even having her name on the licenses despite a June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that gay couples had a constitutional right to marry.
"While most Americans are enjoying the extended holiday weekend with family and friends, Kim Davis sits in isolation for the fourth day in jail," Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said in a statement. "We are working through the holiday to secure Kim's freedom."
Staver said Liberty Counsel on Sunday afternoon filed a notice with a full brief to come.
"Liberty Counsel attorneys are continuing to work on the legal brief that will later be filed in which the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals will be asked to expedite the appeal and set the contempt order aside," Staver said.
Staver said the lawyers will argue that Davis was "entitled to proper notice and due process when she is threatened with the loss of her freedom. There was no indication that she would be incarcerated. We will be presenting our arguments on appeal and asking for an expedited ruling," Staver said.
Davis stopped issuing licenses to all couples, gay and straight, after the Supreme Court ruled. Despite repeated decisions against her, she has continued to cite "God's authority" for defying the courts.
Throughout, Davis has maintained that her Christian beliefs gave her no choice but to oppose the licenses. After a life that included personal problems and four marriages, Davis said she became a devout Christian four years ago after the death of her mother-in-law.
"To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God's definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience," Davis said last week in a statement. "It is not a light issue for me. It is a heaven or hell decision."
Davis was ordered by Bunning to issue the licenses and she refused. She then appealed, losing at the U.S. 6th Circuit and finally last week at the Supreme Court.
The case went back to Bunning on Thursday and he had to decide what steps to take to force Davis to comply with his order.
Lawyers for the couples who brought the original suit asked for a fine rather than imprisonment, but Bunning acted forcefully in protecting judicial power.
"The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order," said Bunning, according to news reports from the courtroom. "If you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that's what potentially causes problems."
Bunning sent Davis to jail for disobeying his order.
Her deputy clerks then issued marriage licenses to gay couples Friday.
Through her lawyers, Davis has maintained that the marriage license are not valid because she did not authorize them.
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