Rowan Clerk Kim Davis released from jail; judge orders her not to interfere with marriage licensing

Kim Davis, flanked by Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee,
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CARTER COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT/AP) - U.S. District Judge David Bunning issued an order Tuesday saying Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis shall be released from Carter County jail.

The judge's order, filed Tuesday in U.S. District, says Davis 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.

Davis was released about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, just in time for a rally that was held in her honor. Before her release presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz both visited her in the jail.

After she was released, her attorney Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, and Huckabee spoke to the media. Davis stayed silent until she spoke later at the rally held in her honor.

Davis, Staver and Huckabee stood before hundreds of supporters and reporters who gathered outside the jail.

Davis had refused to grant licenses to any couples, gay or straight, since shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage.

Bunning's order says that if Davis should interfere in any way with her clerks issuing the licenses, "that will be considered a violation of this order and appropriate sanctions will be considered a violation of this Order and appropriate sanctions will be considered."

It's not clear what will happen when Davis returns to work. During last Thursday's contempt hearing, Bunning offered Davis a chance to get out of jail if she agreed to not interfere with her deputies handing out licenses. At that time, Davis said she would rather go to jail.

On Tuesday, Staver refused to say whether Davis would obey that order.

"Kim Davis cannot and will not violate her conscience," he said. She appeared to be crying and said little. She was asked: "Was it worth it?" She smiled and nodded.

Last Thursday, Bunning held Davis in contempt and ordered her to jail for her refusal to issue marriage licenses "directly or through her deputy clerks." After Davis was taken into custody, five of her six deputy clerks said they would comply with the judge's order and issue marriage licenses.

According to court documents, a status report was filed by the plaintiffs, and that report said they had obtained marriage licenses from the clerk's office. The judge, in a filing Monday afternoon, asked for updates on the statuses of the plaintiffs. The licenses were altered to remove Davis' name. It was replaced with "Rowan County."

"The court is therefore satisfied that the Rowan County Clerk's Office is fulfilling its obligation to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples," according to court documents. The five deputy clerks must file a status report every 14 days to detail their compliance with the judge's order to issue marriage licenses.

William Sharp, legal director of the ACLU of Kentucky, said the lawsuit filed against Davis was done so "to ensure that all residents of Rowan County, gay and straight, could obtain marriage licenses."

"That goal has been achieved," Sharp said. "The Kentucky Attorney General and counsel for Rowan County have said the marriage licenses are valid. We are relying on those representations, and our clients look forward to proceeding with their plans to marry.”

During Thursday's rally, Staver talked about the strength Davis displayed even when she was being attacked by critics who talked about a variety of things, including how many times she had been divorced. He said Davis, in her own words, acknowledged that she "played in the devil’s playground" before she changed her life.

Staver reiterated that she never "violated her conscience."

Staver was among the last to speak in a long list of speakers. Several supporters took the stage throughout the rally and the crowd sang several hymns until Davis came out.

GOP presidential candidate Huckabee also spoke at the rally and introduced Davis, who walked to the stage while "Eye of the Tiger," made famous by the movie Rocky, played.

Davis, who fought back tears, thanked the crowd.

"I love you guys so much," she said. "I just want to give God the glory. His people have rallied and you are a strong people!"

Davis told them to "keep on pressing."

"Don't let down. Because He is here," she said. "He's worthy. He is worthy. I love you guys. Thank you so much."

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