After five nights in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk, walked free Tuesday to a roar of cheers from thousands of supporters, but she and her lawyer would not say whether she would continue to defy court orders and try to block the licenses.
Outside the jail, a planned demonstration by people who, like Ms. Davis, say that same-sex marriage violates their religious beliefs turned buoyant when she was released, the sense of triumph.
She walked onstage to thunderous applause, the song “Eye of the Tiger” playing on loudspeakers, her hands held aloft by one of her lawyers, Mathew D. Staver, and Mike Huckabee, a Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas governor. Another Republican presidential contender, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, was also in attendance but largely overshadowed.
“I just want to give God the glory,” she told the crowd, some waving white crosses. “His people have rallied, and you are a strong people. Just keep on pressing. Don’t let down. Because he is here.”
But her release came with a stern warning from Judge David L. Bunning of Federal District Court, who on Thursday sent her to jail and directed five of her deputies to issue licenses without her approval. In a two-page order on Tuesday, he wrote that he was setting her free because her office was “fulfilling its obligation to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples,” but would that he respond to any further defiance.
“Defendant 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 wrote. “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.”