Anti-gay county clerk released in US

  • 09/09/2015
Kim Davis (Reuters)
Kim Davis (Reuters)

A US clerk sent to jail for refusing to issue marriage licences to gay couples has been ordered released, with a judge saying her county in Kentucky is now complying with the law.

Kim Davis, a born-again Christian, was jailed on Thursday for contempt of court after refusing to issue licences due to her opposition to gay marriage, which the Supreme Court legalised across the United States in June.

The federal judge who ordered her held on contempt charges ruled on Tuesday (local time) that she can now be released because five of the six deputy clerks in Rowan County "stated under oath that they would comply with the Court's Order and issue marriage certificates to all legally eligible couples".

Davis has become a heroine for millions of Americans opposed to the new law of the land.

Republican presidential hopefuls have jumped on the bandwagon, capitalising on the image of an outspoken Christian woman heading to jail as evidence for their claims people opposed to gay marriage are suffering persecution.

Davis was ordered not to "interfere in any way, directly or indirectly" with the issuance of marriage certificates, Judge David Bunning wrote, warning of "appropriate sanctions".

Rowan County handed out its first certificate to a same-sex couple on Friday. The licence was altered so "Rowan County" rather than "Kim Davis" appeared on the line reserved for the name of the clerk.

It was not yet clear whether Davis would continue to insist her deputies could not issue certificates on her behalf.

The 49-year-old clerk stopped issuing marriage certificates in mid-August following the Supreme Court's landmark June 26 ruling legalising gay marriage.

Bunning had previously said Davis could be released from jail as soon as she agreed to issue marriage licences to anyone who qualifies, as her position requires, or resigned from that position.