Kentucky clerk jailed over gay marriage to return to work


OREHEAD, Ky. — Many were keeping their eye on a rural Kentucky county clerk's office Monday morning, Kim Davis' expected first day back at work after a judge jailed her for refusing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The Rowan County clerk, who believes gay marriage is a sin, became a hero to many conservative Christians after she stopped issuing marriage licenses following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that effectively legalized gay marriage.

She was jailed for five days after U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning found her in contempt of court for refusing his order to issue marriage licenses.

In Davis' absence, her deputy clerks have issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

On Monday, Davis can either allow her office to continue issuing licenses or again disobey the judge who already sent her to jail. Davis hasn't said what she will do when she returns to work, but deputy clerk Brian Mason said last Wednesday that if he has to, he will disobey his boss and continue issuing licenses rather than refuse the judge's orders.

On Friday, Davis' attorneys filed an appeal seeking another delay in issuing licenses.

In their motion to the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, her attorneys argued that all the same-sex couples who sued Davis for a license received one from her deputies while she was in jail. Therefore, they said, her office should not be required to issue them to any more couples once she returns to work.

Bunning wrote that his mandate to issue licenses applied to all couples, not only those who filed suit. But Davis' lawyers allege that order was issued improperly, and again have asked for a delay.

The tension in Rowan County reached fever pitch last week, as protesters, presidential candidates and news crews from across the county descended on the small town of Morehead.

Davis, through her lawyers with the Christian firm Liberty Counsel, has also alleged that the licenses issued in her absence are invalid. Both the governor and the attorney general reject that notion and say the licenses will be recognized.