ASHLAND — Same-sex marriage supporters outside the federal courthouse here erupted into cheers and chants of "love wins" as they learned Thursday afternoon that a federal judge had ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to jail.
"Justice has been served, and love and equality has prevailed," said Carl Geiman Jr.
Close by, hundreds of those who supported Davis stood silently. Others prayed and sang hymns.
In the hours leading up to the decision by U.S. District Judge David Bunning to jail Davis for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the two groups yelled, preached and chanted on the sidewalk, sometimes exchanging heated words.
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Dan Ruchinski held a sign that read "America: God Hates Your Sin" and used a portable microphone to preach to the hundreds of people who had arrived hours before the 11 a.m. hearing.
Ruchinski and John McGlone drove from Bowling Green and stood under an unforgiving sun to preach redemption to those they say are sinners.
"We wanted to tell the lost about Jesus, and homosexuals are the lost," McGlone said.
Not 8 feet from McGlone sat Ashley Hogue of Ashland, holding a sign that read, "Kim Davis does not speak for my Christian beliefs."
Hogue said she felt compelled to come Thursday because she knew the issue of same-sex marriage would bring those spewing hate.
"I wanted to be here to represent the loving side of Jesus, and I wanted to support those families who are trying to wed," Hogue said.
Brenda Summars and her mother, Cissy Smith, wore matching bright pink shirts and carried signs that read, "God's laws are my laws."
The two women, who have a street ministry through Saxton Independent Baptist Church, said they were there to support Davis and her religious freedom.
"This was never passed through Congress," Summars said. "She should have the right not to have her signature on those marriage licenses."
Just a month ago, Davis was a little-known official in Rowan County, but her steadfast resistance to issuing marriage licenses since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage June 26 has thrust her and Kentucky into the national spotlight.
On Thursday, satellite news trucks from CNN and television stations from Louisville, Cincinnati and Lexington were parked on the street across from the federal courthouse.
Those who support same-sex marriage said Davis' refusal to issue marriage licenses has given Kentucky a black eye, making the state appear backward.
"I'm here because I'm tired of people hiding behind religion to just find a legal way to bully people," said Laura Dobbins of Greenup.