Updated at 9 a.m. ET
Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, is back to work today — saying she will neither authorize such licenses nor stand in the way of her deputies if they wish to do so.
Flanked by Rowan County Sheriff’s deputies and her son, Nathan — a deputy clerk who has also refused to issue same-sex licenses — Davis said she loves God and her job but won’t authorize the issuing of marriage licenses to gay couples.
“I am here before you this morning with a seemingly impossible choice, which I do not wish on any of my fellow Americans,” she said. “My conscience or my freedom.”
“My conscience or my ability to serve the people that I love,” Davis continued, choking back tears. “Obey God or a directive that forces me to disobey God.”
Her decision was clear, she said: “Effective immediately, and until an accommodation is provided, by those with the authority to provide it, any marriage license issued by my office will not be issued or authorized by me.”
“I love my deputy clerks and I hate that they have been caught in the middle. If any of them feels that they must issue an unauthorized license to avoid being thrown in jail, I understand their tough choice and I will take no action against them,” Davis said, but added: “Any unauthorized license that they issue will not have my name, my title or my authority on it. Instead, the license will state that they are issued pursuant to a federal court order.”
Davis said she had “great doubts” that such licenses could be considered valid.
She urged Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and the court to accommodate religious objections, by intervening to allow such licenses to be issued under the generic authority of the state. “They have the authorization and the authority to provide these types of accommodations, and there’s no reason why they cannot do so.”
During Davis’ time in jail for contempt, at least one Rowan County deputy clerk, Brian Mason, has been issuing same-sex licenses.
As USA Today reports: “Upon returning to work in Morehead, Davis was greeted by a billboard installed by a non-profit organization that advocates for LGBTQ rights.The billboard erected by Planting Peace reads: ‘Dear Kim Davis, The fact that you can’t sell your daughter for three goats and a cow means we’ve already redefined marriage.’ ”