Kim Davis Released from Jail After Judge Lifts Contempt Ruling

A federal judge has ordered the release of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerkwho was jailed last week after she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.


In an order issued Tuesday, US federal judge David Bunning, who remanded Davis to US marshals during a high-profile hearing last week, ordered the Rowan County clerk released from jail on the condition she doesn’t interfere with efforts by her deputies to issue marriage licenses.

“If Defendant Davis should interfere in any way with their issuance, that will be considered a violation of this Order and appropriate sanctions will be considered,” Bunning wrote in the two-page order.

In court last week, Davis rejected an offer from Bunning to remain free after her deputies agreed to comply with his order and issue marriage licenses, saying she wouldn’t authorize them to do so. She was sent to jail indefinitely, until she agreed to abide by Bunning’s order, or if the judge found the circumstances appropriate to lift her sanctions.

Earlier Tuesday, attorneys for the plaintiffs who filed a suit against Davis – alleging they were wrongly refused marriage licenses by Davis’s office, following the US supreme court’s 26 June decision to legalise same sex-marriage – filed a status report with Bunning that showed their clients obtained a marriage license.

Bunning wrote, “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, consistent with the US supreme court’s holding” that same-sex marriage was legal.

The order came just hours ahead of a planned rally outside the Clark County detention center, where Davis has been held since 3 Sept. Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee were expected to meet with Davis on Tuesday afternoon.

The Huckabee and Cruz campaigns didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Davis’ attorneys at Liberty Counsel couldn’t be immediately reached; a spokesperson said a statement would be forthcoming.

Bunning ordered the court-appointed attorneys for the five deputy clerks who said they would issue marriage licenses to file a status report every 14 days “on their clients’ respective compliance” with the judge’s order “requiring them to issue marriage licenses to all eligible couples”.

Initially, the plaintiffs in the case requested a financial penalty to coerce Davis into compliance, after the US supreme court denied the clerk’s request for a stay on the judge’s order. Bunning, an appointee of George W Bush, said he “wasn’t convinced” that would suffice. “I’m not going to put a deadline on it,” he said last week of her incarceration.

Same-sex marriage proponents were pleased with Bunning’s decision on Tuesday, saying it appears Davis’s office has turned a corner.

Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign, a Kentucky LGBT civil rights group, said it’s “great” that Davis has been released and that he agrees with Bunning that her deputies have “appropriately fulfilled his requirements, which is to issue marriage licenses.”

“I think if she actively obstructs the practice in which they’re already engaging, it [would show] a deep contempt for not just the federal courts ... but also for the Constitution of the United States and the highest court in our land, the supreme court,” Hartman told the Guardian. “I expect marriage licenses will continue to come out of Rowan County to all eligible couples, and Kim Davis will be relegated but a footnote in the fight for full LGBT equality and civil rights.”

Davis, an Apostolic Christian who earns $80,000 annually as Rowan County’s elected clerk, has said that issuing a marriage license to a gay couple would violate her conscience.

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