Kim Davis is no longer a Democrat.
The Kentucky clerk jailed for bucking a federal court order that requires her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples said Friday that she and her family had switched to the Republican Party, many of its members having rallied behind her in recent weeks.
“My husband and I had talked about it for quite a while and we came to the conclusion that the Democratic Party left us a long time ago, so why were we hanging on?” Davis told Reuters in an interview at a hotel in Washington, where she is being honored Friday by the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group. Davis said she switched political parties last week.
Earlier this month, Davis became a hero among religious conservatives – many of whom make up an important voting bloc within the GOP – as well as several Republican presidential candidates. The 50-year-old Rowan County clerk spent five full days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses in compliance with an August federal court order, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision to legalize same-sex nuptials. A born-again Apostolic Christian, Davis tried and failed to convince a federal judge that she was “factually unable” to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.
Once incarcerated, Davis’ deputies began issuing marriage licenses again (albeit, altered ones) to all eligible applicants, including same-sex couples. The judge, therefore, determined that Davis’ office was complying with his order and lifted her contempt charges, allowing her to walk free. Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, and Ted Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, were on hand to meet with Davis on the day she was released from jail.
“We embraced and I told her, ‘Kim, thank you,’” Cruz said Friday at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, which Davis attended.
Huckabee addressed her as well during his remarks to the evangelical crowd. “Kim Davis and people like her will never ever go to jail one minute if I’m president of the United States,” he said.
Though Davis is now out of jail and couples are receiving marriage licenses in Rowan County, serious legal issues still remain. The biggest question is whether the licenses issued in the past month could even be considered valid, as Davis never gave permission for her deputies to perform such duties and removed her name and title from the actual forms. In a court motion filed Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union said Davis “immediately” began meddling with the licenses that her office was issuing, thus violating the conditions of her release from jail.
Davis, meanwhile, filed her own 40-page court document Thursday, accusing Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear – a Democrat – of “commandeer[ing]” county clerks’ offices when he instructed officials last June to comply with the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling. In doing so, the filing states, Beshear “usurped control of Kentucky marriage law.”