Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis will return to work this week after serving five days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. On Tuesday the apostolic Christian would not say whether she will allow licenses to continue to be issued or continue to block them, defying a federal court order that could send her back to jail.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning removed the contempt ruling against Davis, after saying he was satisfied that her deputies were fulfilling their obligation to grant licenses to same-sex couples while she was away. However, Bunning’s order was clear: If Davis continues to interfere with the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples when she returns, she could be headed back to jail.
When Kim Davis walked out of the Carter County Detention Center’s front door she raised her arms like a victorious boxer, to the blaring “Rocky”-sequel theme song “Eye of the Tiger.” The clerk said “I just want to give God the glory. His people have rallied, and you are a strong people.”
However Davis did not directly speak during her brief appearance in front of the news media seconds after her release, she only smiled and nodded when a reporter asked if her decision had been worth it since it resulted in her having to go to jail. Mat Staver, founder of the Liberty Counsel, the Christian law firm representing Davis said “Kim cannot and will not violate her conscience.”
In regards to whether she will issue licenses, Staver said only: “You’ll find out in the near future.” According to Staver the licenses issued to same-sex couples by Davis’ employees last week weren’t valid since they weren’t given under Davis’ authority.
However the Kentucky attorney general’s office said otherwise. Whether or not Davis will continue to disrupt the distribution of marriage licenses to same sex couples could become clear as early as Wednesday morning.
At least one of the four couples that sued her have not yet received a marriage license. Five out of 6 of Davis’s deputy clerks all except her son, Nathan agreed to issue licenses to gay couples while Davis was behind bars. After lifting the contempt order, Bunning has asked for updates on the clerks’ compliance every two weeks.
A law professor at the University of Kentucky named Scott Bauries said if Davis returns to work and orders her deputies not to issue licenses, she would be pushing them to choose whether to defy a federal judge or defy their boss. 49 year old Davis has refused to resign her $80,000-a-year job.
Since she is an elected official, she can lose her post only if she is defeated for re-election or is impeached by the state General Assembly. However it is unlikely the Kentucky state legislature would impeach Davis.
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