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US woman jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples -

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NICK GRIMM: In the United States, a county clerk from a small town in rural Kentucky has spent her first night in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Kim Davis has become a national figure for her stance against gay marriage, based on her religious beliefs.

North America correspondent Ben Knight reports.

BEN KNIGHT: Five times in the last two months, James Yates and William Smith have turned up at the Rowan County Courthouse to apply for a marriage license. Five times they were denied by the county clerk, Kim Davis.

But on Friday morning, Kim Davis was in jail. So they came back for another try. This time, they got their document.

PROTESTERS (chanting): Love has won! Love has won!

PROTESTER: This means, at least for this area, civil rights are civil rights and they're not subject to belief.

BEN KNIGHT: Kim Davis has been refusing to issue any marriage licenses since June, when the United States Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision legalising gay marriage across the country.

So eight couples took her to the Federal Court, which then ordered Kim Davis to issue the licenses. But she defied the court and this week was still refusing to hand them out.

DAVID ERMOLD: Under whose authority are you not issuing licences?

KIM DAVIS: Under God's authority.

BEN KNIGHT: So on Thursday, Kim Davis was back before the court - and this time found to be in contempt and jailed.

Her case has, not surprisingly, become a cause celebre among evangelical conservatives and some Republican presidential candidates, like Senator Rand Paul.

RAND PAUL: I think it's absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty.

BEN KNIGHT: Even the White House has weighed in. Spokesman Josh Earnest.

JOSH EARNEST: The success of our democracy depends on the rule of law. And there is no public official that is above the rule of law.

BEN KNIGHT: Kim Davis will front the judge again in a week. But her lawyer, Mat Staver, says she won't have changed her mind by then.

MATHEW STAVER: She has no intention to resign. She will continue to serve the people of Rowan County, as she has done for so many years. And number two: she will never violate her conscience and never betray her God.

So she is prepared for the consequences of those two decisions and that's why she's here.

BEN KNIGHT: Her legal team are appealing for her to be released from prison. And they've suggested a solution: that the marriage licences be issued without Kim Davis' name or title of county clerk written on them.

That may well be the outcome - one way or another.

This is Ben Knight in Washington reporting for Saturday AM.