The controversial Kentucky County Clerk who made media headlines last week when she was jailed for refusing to issue gay marriage licenses, has been released from jail as a few Republican Presidential hopefuls used her jail release as a campaigning opportunity.
Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who defied a federal court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, emerged from jail on Tuesday and was greeted by hundreds of jubilant supporters carrying flags, crosses and signs, one of which read, “Supreme Court = The new ISIS of America.”
Davis left the Carter County Detention Center with lawyer Mathew Staver, who had his arm around his crying client. She was also flanked by GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who has become one of her most vocal supporters.
“She loves God, she loves people, she loves her work, and she will not betray any of those three,” Staver told reporters outside the facility.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning released Davis after five of her six deputies began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (The lone holdout is Davis’ son.) As part of her release, Bunning warned that Davis may not interfere with the duties of her deputy clerks.
Asked by reporters on Tuesday whether Davis will comply with this condition, Staver said only that she “cannot and will not violate her conscience.”
Huckabee praised Davis for showing “more courage than any politician I know” and offered rhetorically to bear any punishment in her place.
“If somebody needs to go to jail, I’m willing to go in her place,” he said.
The main event Tuesday, however, was a pro-Davis rally — which had some marriage equality supporters counter-protesting as well. Huckabee and Staver quickly went to the staging area after leaving the detention center and greeted Davis’ supporters.
“Kim Davis is free!” declared Huckabee to loud cheers.
Another speaker followed the former Arkansas governor with prayer, proclaiming, “We don’t need the Supreme Court when we have the Supreme Being!”
The climax of the event was an appearance by Davis herself, who walked out on stage to a sustained round of applause as the song “Eye of the Tiger” blasted through the speakers. Crying, she embraced Huckabee, who introduced her; lifted her arms into the air; and thanked God and her supporters alike.
“We serve a living God who knows exactly where each and every one of us is. Just keep on pressing, don’t let down. Because he is here,” she said.
Davis had been in jail since Thursday, when Bunning ordered her locked up until she complied with his order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She argued that she could not do so because it “irreparably and irreversibly violates her conscience.” Davis is a follower of Apostolic Christianity. Supporters of gay marriage have pointed out that she’s hardly a model of “family values,” since she has been divorced three times.
Staver said that Davis plans to return to work this week and that she has no intention of resigning despite the standing court order to issue marriage licenses to all couples. (Kentucky law largely shields an elected official like Davis from being forced out of her post.) Staver and his client are instead asking officials to remove her name and authority from the certificate.
“She cannot allow her name to be associated with something that conflicts with God’s definition of marriage,” he said.
Opponents of marriage equality are holding her up as a martyr for their cause. Huckabee, in particular, has been outspoken in her defense. On Sunday, he compared her stance to President Abraham Lincoln’s fight against slavery.