Rand Paul on Clerk's Arrest: 'Absurd to Put Someone in Jail for Exercising Religious Liberty'

By Michael W. Chapman | September 3, 2015 | 7:13pm EDT

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis.  (AP)


(CNSNews.com) -- In reaction to the arrest and imprisonment today of county clerk Kim Davis because she refused to grant marriage licenses to homosexual couples, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said it was "absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty."  He added that the heavy-handed "bully force" step by the state in this case was "a huge mitake" and would set the "movement back" for those trying "to redefine marriage."

Kim Davis is a clerk for the state of Kentucky in Rowan County.  She has steadfastly refused to grant marriage licenses to homosexual couples because of her Christian beliefs. Federal District Court Judge David L. Bunning rejected Davis's appeal to her religious faith, saying it was "simply not a viable defense." Davis was arrested and imprisoned today, Sept. 3.

Asked by CNN's Brianna Keilar for his reaction to Davis's incarceration, Sen. Paul said, “I think it’s absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty. If you want to convince people that same-sex marriage is something that’s acceptable, I would say try to persuade people."

"But if we’re going to use the federal government and we’re going to get involved in every state locality, you know what’s going to happen?" he said.  "It’s going to harden people’s resolve on this issue. They’ll be no open-mindedness on this."

"I think it’s a real mistake to be doing this," said Sen. Paul.  "I think what’s going to happen as a result of this is states and localities are just going to opt-out of the marriage business completely."

"This is really the problem when from on high, from the federal level, we decide to get involved in a situation that has always, throughout our history, been a local issue," said the senator.


CNN's Keilar then said, “What do you think about Carly Fiorina’s take on this? She’s said, like you, that she respects Miss Davis’s beliefs, her religious beliefs, but she also says she’s a government employee and she should be executing the will of the government, and if she doesn’t want to do that then she should get a new job."

Senator Paul said, “Well, you know, I think one thing we haven’t debated enough is what actually is the law. Is the law that every county clerk in Kentucky has to sign a marriage certificate? Is a notary of the public, is that sufficient? Is the clerk’s job to execute and to file contracts, or is it to sign their approval?"

"I think there’s a lot of different ways around this that don’t lead to conflict, that lead to more time where people can try to persuade others of their opinion of what marriage should be," he said.  

"But I think this is a real mistake and even those on the other side of the issue, those who want to support a new definition for marriage, I think it sets their movement back," said Paul,  "because it’s seen as the federal government is going to come in with bully force, here even with police power, and incarcerate people who disagree or who still believe in the traditional notion of marriage."

"I think it’s a huge mistake and a step back even for those who do want to redefine marriage," he said. 

Also commenting on the case today, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Davis's arrest and imprisonment "removes all doubt of the criminalization of Christianity in our country." 

(Video for this report was made available courtesy of CNN and the Wolf program, hosted by Wolf Blitzer.) 

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