Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who spent five nights behind bars last year for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, will attend tonight’s State of the Union address, the conservative legal group representing her said in a statement Tuesday morning.
Also in attendance will be Davis’ attorney, Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. According to the group, their presence “will be a visible reminder of the Administration’s attack on religious liberty and an encouragement for people of faith to stand.”
“Kim and I are encouraging all people of faith to get involved in the political process, to vote for people who support your values, and to never give up,” Staver said in a statement. “Our ‘one nation under God,’ is worth our continued prayers and active support.”
Davis has earned many fans in the Republican Party for her defiant stand last year against a Supreme Court ruling that required her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Doing so, she said, would violate her Christian beliefs – an argument that failed to convince a federal judge she should be exempt from the landmark decision making marriage equality the law of the land. That judge found Davis in contempt of court and sent her to jail for five nights.
Despite becoming a hero to many in the GOP – including two Republican presidential candidates, Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, who were with Davis on the day she was released from jail – Liberty Counsel will not say which Republican lawmaker invited her to attend tonight’s State of the Union.
“We are not publicizing that information,” Charla Bansley, Liberty Counsel’s communications director, told MSNBC. “I don’t think we’ll ever publicize it.”
President Obama is expected to tout the many strides his administration has taken toward LGBT equality at tonight’s State of the Union address, the last of his presidency. Among the 25 guests in the First Lady’s box will be Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the consolidated case of Obergefell v. Hodges, which invalidated bans on same-sex nuptials. In a press conference Tuesday, Obergefell told reporters that Davis had a right to attend tonight’s address, even though he disagreed with her beliefs.
“To me, it doesn’t seem like the right venue to promote divisiveness or to encourage … a public official refusing to serve the entire public, especially when they’ve taken an oath to uphold the laws of their state and U.S. Constitution,” Obergefell said. “I can agree to disagree with her positions and with those who support her. But she has the right to be there.”