A US district judge on Tuesday ordered Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis released after she spent six days in jail for defying his orders to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
Judge David Bunning said he was satisfied the licenses were now being issued in accordance with US law — but in lifting his contempt of court order, he also issued a warning of sorts to the 49-year-old Davis, saying she "shall not interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples."
If she tries to interfere with the issuance of the licenses, "that will be considered a violation of this order and appropriate sanctions will be considered," Bunning said.
Kim Davis released from Carter Co jail pic.twitter.com/X3sz3bBf6N
— Ryland Barton (@RylandKY) September 8, 2015
Davis, who has become a darling of some social conservatives, had refused to issue any marriage licenses under an office policy she created after the US Supreme Court in June effectively made gay marriage legal across the country. She cited her beliefs as an Apostolic Christian that a marriage can be between only a man and a woman.
Davis's case has raised questions about whether government officials who oppose gay marriage can refuse to involve themselves in what is now a legal procedure. To date, 17 clerks have sent letters to the governor's office in Kentucky requesting a meeting for resolving the issue.
According to the Associated Press, half of the clerks who sent letters to Governor Steve Beshear said that despite their faith-based objections to same-sex marriages, they had been giving out licenses to gay couples, or planned to if the situation arose. The Kentucky Clerks Association said 60 clerks in total — there are 120 in the state — said they were planning to send letters to the governor.
Davis's refusal did not prevent gay couples in rural Kentucky from getting married. Last Friday, her deputies processed a license for James Yates and William Smith, a same sex couple who had previously been denied a license by Davis five times.
Before Tuesday's decision, Davis's supporters had gathered outside the Carter County Detention Center in Grayson, Kentucky, many holding signs with religious messages. A rally later in the afternoon was expected to include Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz.
Grayson schools canceled classes on Tuesday as a precaution due to the increased traffic caused by the rally.