Kentucky clerk Kim Davis returned to work this morning for the first time since being jailed for disobeying a judge’s order for denying marriage licenses to gay couples, saying she wants her name and title removed from the licenses currently being issued by her office.
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Choking back tears at a news conference before her return to work, a defiant Davis said she is faced with a "seemingly impossible choice ... my conscience or my freedom," referring to her opposition to same-sex marriages.
"I'm no hero," she added.
Despite her assertion that her deputies don't have her authority to issue marriage licenses, Rowan County Deputy Clerk Brian Mason issued a license this morning to the first same-sex couple to apply after Davis' return to the office. Davis never left her office during the process.
Davis also told reporters this morning that she wants the licenses to indicate that they are being issued under federal authority.
She returned to work today nearly one week after being released from jail for failing to issue marriage licenses over her religious objection to same-sex marriage.
Davis filed an appeal Friday that asks for another delay in issuing the licenses. If the court does not respond before Davis returns to work, she will have to choose whether to allow her office to continue issuing licenses or again disobey the judge who already sent her to jail.
U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning wrote that his mandate to issue licenses applied to all couples, not only those who filed suit. But Davis' lawyers allege that order was issued improperly, and again have asked for a delay.
The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals previously dismissed Davis' primary argument that her religious faith should exempt her from licensing a gay marriage. "It cannot be defensibly argued that the holder of the Rowan County Clerk's office, apart from who personally occupies that office, may decline to act in conformity with the United States Constitution as interpreted by a dispositive holding of the United States Supreme Court," a panel wrote two weeks ago when it rejected her most recent appeal.
Davis, elected last year as a Democrat, was taken into custody Sept. 3 after she refused to comply with Bunning's order to resume issuing marriage licenses in Rowan County. She was released from jail five days later, flanked by presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, to a cheering crowd as the Survivor song “Eye of the Tiger” played.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.