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Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis Released From Jail


Kim Davis gets to make another choice. The clerk of Rowan County, Ky. can return to work after a judge let her out of jail yesterday. Her brief detention for contempt of court allowed her employees to ignore Davis's orders. She had insisted that nobody should be allowed a marriage license so that she would not have to be involved in issuing any license for a same-sex marriage. Davis's release raises the questions of what she'll tell her office to do now and how they will respond. Kentucky Public Radio's Ryland Barton reports.

RYLAND BARTON, BYLINE: As she exited the jail, Kim Davis got a rock star welcome from a crowd of evangelicals.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Would you please help me welcome to the stage Kim Davis?

BARTON: Thousands cheered as she walked onstage to the "Eye Of The Tiger."


KIM DAVIS: Thank you all so much. I love you all so very much.

BARTON: Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee had already planned the rally. But then, she was unexpectedly released. She was tearful as she spoke and joined in on the defiant attitude that had been brewing outside the jail all day.


DAVIS: Just keep on pressing.


DAVIS: Don't let down because he is here. And he's worthy. He's worthy.

BARTON: When the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in June, Davis cited her religious beliefs and stopped handing out licenses. Federal Judge David Bunning found her in contempt. In his order releasing her, he said he did so because her deputy clerks had been issuing marriage licenses since her arrest. Judge Bunning threatened additional sanctions if there are more problems. Mat Staver runs Liberty Counsel, the religious freedom law firm representing Davis. He says when she returns to work, she's not planning to issue any licenses.


MAT STAVER: She's not getting out because she violated her conscience. Her conscious remains clear today as it was when she first walked into these jails cells. And it will remain clear in the future.

BARTON: Davis and her attorney say the licenses issued while she was in jail aren't valid because she didn't approve them.


BARTON: The rally drew supporters from across the country. In addition to Mike Huckabee, fellow GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz was there too. Although Davis had just spent five days in jail, the mood was one of victory. Kevin Hutton, a preacher from Decatur, Ill., says evangelicals have united around Davis because they're fed up with religious freedoms being downtrodden.

KEVIN HUTTON: I think when this took place, they didn't realize what was happening. It wasn't just an attack on Kim. It was an attack on the church.

BARTON: Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister, is trying to cultivate some of that anger to fuel his White House run.


MIKE HUCKABEE: People are tired of the tyranny of judicial action that takes people's freedoms away, takes their basic fundamental constitutional rights and puts them in jeopardy.

BARTON: Kim Davis isn't giving up. Her legal team has already filed appeals, and they're pushing for the state legislature to amend Kentucky's marriage laws. For NPR News, I'm Ryland Barton in Grayson, Ky. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ryland is the state capitol reporter for the Kentucky Public Radio Network, a group of public radio stations including WKU Public Radio. A native of Lexington, Ryland has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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