Judge orders Kim Davis freed from Kentucky jail

This Thursday, Aug. 3, 2015 photo made available by the Carter County Detention Center shows Kim Davis. The Rowan County, Ky. clerk went to jail Thursday for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, but five of her deputies agreed to comply with the law, ending a two-month standoff. (Carter County Detention Center via AP)

GRAYSON, Ky. (NBC NEWS) – A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a Kentucky clerk who has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples may leave jail, but her lawyer says she’ll continue blocking licenses when she returns to work.

That sets up another legal confrontation on a case that is becoming a case study on the continued resistance to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis released with the caveat that if she interfered with the deputies who have been issuing the licenses to same-sex couples, “appropriate sanctions will be considered.”

That seems likely, since Davis told Bunning on Thursday, just before he had her jailed, that she would not allow any same sex marriage licenses to be issued from her office, even if she wasn’t the one signing them. That’s because all licenses issued by her office are, legally, authorized by her.

Davis said she could not abide that.

“Nothing has been resolved,” Davis’ lawyer, Mat Staver, told NBC News soon after Bunning ordered her released.

“She told the court Thursday that she can’t allow licenses to go out under her name and her authority that authorize a marriage that collides with her conscience and religious conviction, and Kim is not changed on that position,” Staver said

Davis, 49, has repeatedly defied the courts, saying that authorizing the licenses would violate her Christian beliefs. Arguing that her religious freedom is being compromised, she has asked state officials to develop alternative ways for the licenses to be issued without requiring her to authorize them.

Since her jailing, Christian supporters have rallied outside the Carter County Detention Center daily.

Bunning’s order also requires the five deputy clerks in Rowan County to file status reports every 14 days detailing their compliance with his earlier orders that the office issue licenses to same-sex couples in accordance with the Supreme Court’s June ruling.

Two other clerks in Kentucky — Casey Davis in Casey County, and Kay Schwartz in Whitley County — are also refusing to issue marriage license to same-sex couples based on the same religious-freedom argument. They have not been subject to any legal challenges, and so have not been threatened with jail.

Staver pointed out that Davis’ release also does nothing to address the issues in those other counties.

“Other clerks are going to have the same problem. They already do,” Staver said. “They just haven’t been targeted yet with jail time.”

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