Kim Davis, the embattled Kentucky county clerk at the center of a dispute over gay marriage and religious liberty, is out of jail but “needs time to rest” and won’t return to work until Friday or Monday, her lawyers said Wednesday.
Liberty Counsel, the legal group representing Davis, said she plans to spend time with family after the six-day ordeal in the Carter County Detention Center.
The Rowan County clerk was jailed on Thursday for refusing to comply with a federal judge’s order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. While she was being held, her deputies complied with the order, which satisfied the court.
But her attorneys say the licenses issued so far are not valid and that Davis still refuses to authorize the forms, even after six days in jail. However, Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, never directly addressed whether Davis would try to reestablish the policy upon her return.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning released Davis from jail Tuesday on the condition that she does not interfere with her deputies issuing the licenses.
Bunning said he was satisfied that the Rowan County Clerk’s Office would comply with his order. But he warned her she would be sanctioned again if she violates the conditions of her release and ordered the court-appointed lawyers for her deputy clerks to report every 14 days on whether they are continuing to comply with their sworn pledge to issue licenses to all couples.
Five of her six deputy clerks — all except her son Nathan — said under oath they would do so.
The dispute has served as rallying cry for religious groups who championed Davis’ actions as an expression of her religious liberty. Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was on hand in front of the detention center Tuesday to escort her to a podium for a rally of about a thousand supporters.
“I just want to give God the glory,” she said, as Christian groups from around the region roared in support of her release. “His people have rallied, and you are a strong people.”
Davis, who took the stage as “Eye of the Tiger” played over a speaker system, urged the crowd to keep pressing because “He is here,” but she declined all comment at an earlier news conference. When a reporter asked if her time in jail was worth it, Davis only nodded her head yes for a moment.
Staver told reporters that she had not abandoned her conscience. “We are pleased that Kim Davis has been ordered released,” he said in a statement. But “she can never recover the past six days of her life spent in an isolated jail cell like a common criminal because of her conscience and religious convictions.”
Staver said in an email Tuesday night that “we need time to speak with Kim about the order, and she needs time to rest.”
For now at least, it appears that the licenses will be issued. The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents four couples who sued her, said its goal has been achieved.
“This case was brought to ensure that all residents of Rowan County, gay and straight, could obtain marriage licenses,” William Sharp, legal director for the ACLU of Kentucky, said in a news release.
The Rowan County Rights Coalition, which has been protesting Davis’ no-license policy for weeks, was not planning any events outside the courthouse Wednesday.
“Licenses are being issued, that’s all we wanted,” said coalition member Nashia Fife. “This is not about Kim Davis. We support Judge Bunning’s decision to release her.”
(Mike Wynn writes for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal and Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY.)