Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed last week after she defied a court’s order that she issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was ordered released on Tuesday.
In a two-page order issued Tuesday, the judge who sent her to jail, David L. Bunning of the Federal District Court, said he would release Ms. Davis because he was satisfied that her office was “fulfilling its obligation to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.”
Judge Bunning ordered that Ms. 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.” He he said that any such action would be regarded as “a violation” of his released order.
Although a Supreme Court decision in June legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States, Ms. Davis, the Rowan County clerk, said her beliefs as an Apostolic Christian kept her from sanctioning any such nuptials. Judge Bunning last month said she was required by law to issue the licenses, but she maintained her resistance and was sent to jail.
Ms. Davis’s argument and incarceration have resonated deeply among Christian conservatives, many of whom fear an erosion of religious liberty, and transformed the clerk of a rural Kentucky county into an unyielding symbol of opposition to same-sex marriage.
Ms. Davis’s deputies began processing licenses after she was jailed. In a signal of the possible courtroom battles to come, Ms. Davis’s lawyers have questioned whether those licenses are valid, but Rowan County officials have insisted they will be recognized.
Reports of Ms. Davis’s release came shortly ahead of visits planned by two Republican presidential candidates, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, and a rally in support of Ms. Davis. A handful of local schools were closed Tuesday as the streets of this small town, population 4,200, near the border with West Virginia, swelled with traffic.