US & Canada

Kim Davis released from jail in dispute over gay marriage

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Media captionReleased clerk Kim Davis: "I want to give God the glory, his people have rallied"

A US judge has released a Kentucky official from jail so long as she does not interfere with her deputies when they issue marriage licences to gay couples.

Kim Davis, an elected official, has said that her Christian faith should exempt her from signing the licences.

If she interferes with her deputies, federal Judge David Bunning said she could be jailed for defying the court.

The US Supreme Court declared gay marriage legal in June.

After she was released on Tuesday, Ms Davis greeted a large crowd of supporters as the song Eye of the Tiger blared on a nearby speaker system.

"I just want to give God the glory. His people have rallied, and you are a strong people," she said with her lawyer, Mat Staver, and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee by her side.

Mr Staver said on Tuesday she would return to work this week.

He would not say whether Ms Davis would interfere with her deputies but said "she would not violate her conscience".

Two federal courts and the US Supreme Court have ruled against Ms Davis after she repeatedly refused to issue marriage licences since June.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Kim Davis is comforted by her lawyer Mat Staver
Image copyright AP
Image caption A large crowd of supporters has gathered outside the jail where Ms Davis was being held
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Ms Davis spent several days in jail

Ms Davis, a Democrat who serves Rowan County, a rural area in eastern Kentucky, was found in contempt of court on Thursday and jailed.

"God's moral law conflicts with my job duties," Ms Davis said on Thursday. "You can't be separated from something that's in your heart and in your soul."

The following day, several of her deputies began issuing marriage licences to couples.

It is unclear whether the Judge Bunning's latest order will resolve the dispute.

On Thursday, Judge Bunning offered a compromise where Ms Davis could avoid jail if she agreed not to interfere with her deputies, but she refused.

Because Ms Davis is an elected official, she cannot be fired. She could be impeached by the Kentucky legislature, but the body is not in session.


Image copyright AP

Republicans split on Kim Davis

In support:

  • Mike Huckabee: The former Arkansas governor visited Ms Davis in jail on Tuesday and appeared by her side as she was released. "Let Kim go, but if you have to put someone in jail, I volunteer to go," he said.
  • Ted Cruz: "Outrageous she was jailed 6 days for living according to her Christian faith," he tweeted after she was released.

In the middle:

  • Marco Rubio: "There should be a way to protect the religious freedom and conscience rights of individuals working in the office," the Florida senator said.
  • Jeb Bush: "It seems to me that there ought to be common ground," the former Florida governor said. "I'm a little confused about why that can't be done."

Against:

  • Donald Trump: "You have to go with it. The decision's been made, and that is the law of the land."
  • Carly Fiorina: The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard said Ms Davis should resign. "Given the fact that the government is paying her salary, I think that is not appropriate."
  • John Kasich: "I respect the fact that this lady doesn't agree," the Ohio governor said. "But in terms of her responsibility I think she has to comply."

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