The Supreme Court on Monday ruled against the Kentucky county clerk who has refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses, and the clerk will arrive at work Tuesday morning to face her moment of truth.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis will have to choose whether to issue marriage licenses, defying her Christian conviction, or continue to refuse them, defying a federal judge who could pummel her with fines or order that she be hauled off to jail.
"She's going to have to think and pray about her decision overnight. She certainly understands the consequences either way," Mat Staver, founder of the law firm representing Davis, said on Monday, hours before a court-ordered delay in the case expired. "She'll report to work tomorrow, and face whatever she has to face."
A line of couples, turned away by her office again and again in the two months since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage across the nation, plan to meet her at the courthouse door.
Davis stopped issuing all marriage licenses in the days after the landmark decision. Two gay couples and two straight couples sued her, arguing that she must fulfill her duties as an elected official despite her personal religious faith. A federal judge ordered her to issue the licenses, and an appeals court upheld that decision. Her lawyers with the Liberty Counsel filed a last-ditch appeal to the Supreme Court on Friday, asking that they grant her "asylum for her conscience."
Justice Elena Kagan, who oversees the 6th district, referred Davis' request to the full court, which denied the stay without comment. Kagan joined the majority in June when the court legalized gay marriage across the nation.
Meanwhile, a couple that had been turned away went to Rowan County Attorney Cecil Watkins to ask that she be charged with official misconduct, a misdemeanor defined by state law as a public official who "refrains from performing a duty imposed upon him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office." The crime is punishable by up to a year in jail.
Watkins cited a conflict of interest and forwarded the complaint to Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, whose office will decide whether to appoint a special prosecutor, generally a county attorney from a surrounding jurisdiction, who would decide whether to file charges.