2016 Republican Candidates Rally Around Ky. Clerk Kim Davis

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WASHINGTON (CNN) — Republican presidential candidates rallied around the Kentucky clerk taken into custody Thursday for not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk, declined to heed a U.S. Supreme Court order legalizing same-sex marriage, so on Thursday a federal judge held her in contempt and remanded her to custody.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said the move would set a bad precedent.

“I think it’s absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty,” he said on CNN shortly after the decision. “I think it’s a real mistake and even those on the other side of the issue, I think it sets their movement back.”

Paul said forcing conservative Christians to issue marriage licensees to same-sex couples is going to backfire.

“What’s going to happen is it’s going to harden people’s resolve on this issue,” he said. “I think what’s going to happen is that state and localities are just going to opt out of the marriage business.”

Paul suggested compromises that would allow Davis to refrain from putting her signature on the license. The process could involve a notary public who does not object to the law.

“This is a really the problem when we decide to get involved in a situation that has always through the history of our country been a local issue,” he said.

Other presidential candidates weighed in on the news.

“Kim Davis in federal custody removes all doubts about the criminalization of Christianity in this country. We must defend #ReligiousLiberty!” tweeted former Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal also defended what he called Davis’ religious freedom.

“I don’t think anyone should have to choose between following their conscience and religious beliefs and giving up their job and facing financial sanctions. I think it’s wrong to force Christian individuals or business owners,” he told the Huffington Post. “We are seeing government today discriminate against whether it’s clerks, florists, musicians or others. I think that’s wrong. I think you should be able to keep your job and follow your conscience.”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker discussed Davis’s decision Thursday on the Laura Ingraham Show.

“In the end, this is the balance that you gotta have to have in America, between the laws that are out there, but ultimately ensuring that the Constitution is upheld,” he said. “I read that the Constitution is very clear that people have freedom of religion — you have the freedom to practice religious beliefs out there, it’s a fundamental right.”

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