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Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis Released From Jail

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Late this afternoon, a federal judge in Kentucky released the defiant county clerk Kim Davis from jail. Davis had been held on contempt charges since last Thursday for her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her religious beliefs. We're joined now by Ryland Barton of Kentucky Public Radio who was there at the Carter County Detention Center when she was released. And Ryland, to begin, what reason did the judge give for releasing Kim Davis from custody now?

RYLAND BARTON, BYLINE: Well, he said that now that the Rowan County Clerk's Office is issuing marriage licenses - the deputy clerks there have been issuing marriage licenses since Kim Davis has been in jail for the past five days - and so since they're now issuing marriage licenses, she's in compliance with his order to resume issuing marriage licenses.

Now, he did issue that order for her to be released with a large caveat, and that is that she can't get in the way of marriage licenses being issued in the Clerk's Office. She's said that she doesn't agree with her deputy clerks issuing those licenses, so it's yet to be seen how that's going to totally shake out.

CORNISH: We know that supporters have been outside of the detention center for days, but what's the scene like today?

BARTON: It was pretty wild. There were thousands of people. A representative from Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign said that there were about 4,000 people there. There was - it looked a lot like a presidential campaign. There were these big 18-wheeler stages that were brought in for speeches and also a chorus and also another one for the media. And there was just a lot people, a lot of supporters there with signs, very loud praying and singing.

CORNISH: And Kim Davis herself came out and addressed the crowd. We have a little sound of that.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KIM DAVIS: I just want to give God the glory. His people have rallied, and you are a strong people.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTON: Yeah. She took the stage briefly, and she was very tearful. She was with her husband, and she just thanked everybody for showing up and thanked everybody for supporting her while she was in jail.

CORNISH: Kim Davis's attorney said today that she'll return to work, but he also said that she's going to stick with her religious convictions. So does that mean we're looking at another showdown?

BARTON: We will see. We're not sure if she's going to return to work tomorrow. And really, the next thing we're looking for is to see if marriage licenses will continue to be issued from the Clerk's Office once she goes back to work. She has said that she still doesn't agree with issuing those marriage licenses, and she says the ones that have been issued by her deputy clerks aren't valid because she is - I mean, she's the one who's in charge of issuing those marriage licenses. Normally, she gives her deputy clerks that power to issue marriage licenses, but now that they're issuing them without her permission, she says they don't count.

CORNISH: Ryland Barton is a reporter with Kentucky Public Radio. Ryland, thank you for speaking with us.

BARTON: Thanks a lot for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.