(MOREHEAD, Ky.) — For Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk in jail for refusing a judge’s order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, she herself holds a jailhouse key.
Davis, who was taken into custody Thursday, could be released as soon as she complies with U.S. District Judge David Bunning’s order to resume issuing licenses in Rowan County.
“With civil contempt, you hold the jailhouse key,” Howard Wasserman, law professor at Florida International University College of Law, told ABC News. “As soon as you comply, you are let out of jail.”
But lawyers for Davis say she has no intention of resigning and any marriage licenses issued by her deputy clerks are void.
Professor Wasserman says he believes Bunning chose jail for Davis because “the less severe sanction of monetary fines would not have been sufficient to get her to comply. So the judge concluded that this was the only sanction he had left.”
Davis’ options appear to be to comply, resign or stay in jail, Wasserman said, adding that it’s unclear what will happen next. But Wasserman noted that it seems as though Davis is “benefiting in an odd way from being in jail.”
“I wouldn’t say she wants to be there … [but] for her cause, this is actually an advantageous thing,” Wasserman said. “Because she has been a martyr to this cause. She has presidential candidates talking about [her as a] victim in a war against Christianity … and how she’s a victim of being the first person ever put in jail for adhering to their conscience, which is not true.
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