In returning to work Monday, Kim Davis, the embattled Kentucky county clerk at the center of the dispute over gay marriage, said she will continue to defy the Supreme Court order and will not authorize marriage licenses.
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Davis, the Rowan County clerk, said she will take no action against deputy clerks who issue licenses, but says the forms will not be issued under her name or authority.
In a statement outside the Rowan County Courthouse, Davis told a crowd of supporters, protesters and media that she wants to continue to serve and wants to remove her name from the title for marriage licenses. She said she faces an “impossible choice … her conscience or her freedom.”
Davis took several days off to spend with family following her high-profile release last week from the Carter County Detention Center.
She said she faces an “impossible choice … her conscience or her freedom.”
At least one deputy clerk in Rowan County, Brian Mason, has been issuing licenses since U.S. District Judge David Bunning jailed Davis on Sept. 3 for contempt of court.
Bunning released Davis from jail Tuesday, six days later, on the condition that she not interfere with her deputies issuing the licenses.
Her attorneys, however, say the licenses issued in her absence — around 10, mostly for same-sex couples — are not valid without Davis’ authorization. Davis’ attorneys have remained evasive over Davis’ plans, saying only that she will not violate her conscience.
Bunning warned Davis that 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.
During Davis’ contempt of court hearing earlier this month, five of the six deputy clerks said they would issue same-sex marriage licenses. The only holdout was Davis’ son, Nathan Davis.
Upon returning to work in Morehead, Davis will be greeted by a billboard installed by a nonprofit organization that advocates for LGBTQ rights. The billboard, erected by Planting Peace, reads: “Dear Kim Davis, The fact that you can’t sell your daughter for three goats and a cow means we’ve already redefined marriage.”
Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in June. Four couples, two gay and two straight, sued her, arguing that she must fulfill her duties as an elected official despite her personal Christian faith. The forms given out while she was in jail do not bear her name.
This article originally appeared in Religion News Service.