Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Ky., clerk who spent Labor Day weekend in jail because she refused to approve marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples, is a free woman today.
“We are pleased that Kim Davis has been ordered released. She can never recover the past six days of her life spent in an isolated jail cell, where she was incarcerated like a common criminal because of her conscience and religious convictions,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, the legal organization that represented Davis.
“She is now free to return to her family, her coworkers and the office where she has faithfully served for the past 27 years. We will continue to assist Kim and pursue the multiple appeals she has filed.”
However, in the order by which U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning granted her freedom, Davis was told not to interfere with the issuance of marriage licenses to “legally eligible couples,” no matter if they are straight or gay.
She was only released because the lesbian plaintiffs who accused Davis of refusing to give them a marriage license have received their license. That is because five of her office’s six deputy clerks — everyone except Davis’ son — agreed to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples.
Staver did not say whether Davis would respect Bunning’s conditions for her release.
Judge Bunning did more than put Davis in a jail cell Sept. 3. He also thrust her into a national and even international spotlight. She has become a symbol of the continuing fight over the legalization of gay marriage. Republican presidential hopefuls former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) showed up at the jail for her release and took photos with the country clerk. Huckabee offered to take her place behind bars.
When one is a symbol, one has a responsibility.
Horatio “Harry” Mihet, chief litigation counsel for Liberty Counsel, told PJM while she was still behind bars, Davis considered herself to be a prisoner of conscience.
“Kim Davis will not under any circumstances violate her conscience or violate her religious freedom by engaging in the same-sex marriage enterprise,” said Mihet. “Her conscience is clear. She hasn’t lost any sleep. She has the comfort of knowing the Lord is with her.”
Mihet said Davis is confident “millions of freedom-loving Americans” are on her side in this fight against issuing same-sex marriage applications, which she believes is a violation of her religious freedom.
“Kim is certainly the bravest woman in America, and is the most well-known of the few clerks that have chosen to take a stand for their conscience,” he said.
Davis is not the only government official who might be willing to stand a stand against issuing same-sex marriage applications.
There are at least two other clerks in Kentucky, he said, who are refusing to issue same-sex marriage applications. Mihet said several county clerks in Texas are also refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, but they have not been sued yet.
“They are from smaller counties and have not yet come into the crosshairs of the homosexual machine,” he said.
Mihet said close to a dozen Alabama probate judges and 40 magistrates in North Carolina have refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
In North Carolina there is a difference. A statute approved in June following the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage allows magistrates to recuse themselves from approving same-sex marriages.
“This is something Kentucky could have done, and could still easily do, to protect people of faith, like Kim Davis,” he said.
The Kentucky Legislature could take action, but the governor doesn’t feel it’s necessary to pull together an emergency session.
“The General Assembly will convene in just four months and can make any statutory changes it deems necessary at that time,” said Gov. Steve Beshear (D-Ky.) in a statement issued a few hours after Davis began her jail sentence for contempt of court.
He said Davis’ future “is a matter between her and the courts.”
“I see no need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money calling a special session of the General Assembly when 117 of 120 county clerks are doing their jobs.”
Huckabee called Davis’ case “a reckless, appalling, out-of-control decision that undermines the Constitution of the United States and our fundamental right to religious liberty.”
“Having Kim Davis in federal custody removes all doubt of the criminalization of Christianity in our country. We must defend religious liberty and never surrender to judicial tyranny,” said Huckabee.
“What a world, where Hillary Clinton isn’t in jail but Kim Davis is.”
Cruz said “those who are persecuting Kim Davis believe that Christians should not serve in public office.”
“That is the consequence of their position. Or, if Christians do serve in public office, they must disregard their religious faith –or be sent to jail,” said Cruz.
“Where is the call for President Obama to resign for ignoring and defying our immigration laws, our welfare reform laws, and even his own Obamacare?” he added. “When the mayor of San Francisco and President Obama resign, then we can talk about Kim Davis.”
Mihet said there has also been a groundswell of support on Twitter and Facebook for Davis, and she has received letters and packages from supporters at the Carter County Detention Center in Grayson, Ky.
Kim Davis haters and trolls have also taken to Twitter and Facebook to lampoon the county clerk, and worse.
“The people who are demanding tolerance are showing precious little of it to Kim Davis,” Mihet said. “They have threatened to burn down her family’s house and rape her while her family watches.”
Davis said in a statement the death threats and hate mail would not deter her. However, Mihet said Liberty Counsel is taking each of the threats seriously.
“It seems like we should have the FBI’s number on speed dial,” he said.