Judge clears Kentucky clerk, OKs marriage licenses with her name removed

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Kim Davis Obeying Orders In Gay Marriage Case?

LOUISVILLE, Ky., (Reuters) -- The federal judge who threw Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis into jail last year for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples said she had not interfered with the process since her release and that licenses with her name removed should still be valid.

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U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning ruled late on Tuesday that Rowan County's Davis, who spent five days in jail last September for her stand on marriage licenses for gay couples, had not interfered with her deputies' issuing the licenses.

When she returned to work, Davis removed her name, title and personal authorization from the licenses.

"There was every reason to believe" the forms she altered would be deemed valid by state officials, Bunning said, adding that the court would continue to monitor Davis and her office.

Citing her beliefs as an Apostolic Christian, Davis, 50, drew national attention for her refusal to issue any licenses after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June made gay marriage legal across the nation. Homosexual and heterosexual couples subsequently sued her, and her jailing drew international attention and demonstrations from both sides of the issue.

See images of Kim Davis after her release from jail:

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Kim Davis (Kentucky clerk) since her release from jail
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Judge clears Kentucky clerk, OKs marriage licenses with her name removed
ABC NEWS - 9/21/15 - Paula Faris speaks to Kim Davis, the Kentucky court clerk who went to jail because she refused to issue gay marriage licenses. The exclusive interview will air on all ABC News programs and platforms. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) PAULA FARIS, KIM DAVIS
ABC NEWS - 9/21/15 - Paula Faris speaks to Kim Davis, the Kentucky court clerk who went to jail because she refused to issue gay marriage licenses. The exclusive interview will air on all ABC News programs and platforms. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) PAULA FARIS, KIM DAVIS, MATHEW STAVER (ATTORNEY)
ABC NEWS - 9/21/15 - Paula Faris speaks to Kim Davis, the Kentucky court clerk who went to jail because she refused to issue gay marriage licenses. The exclusive interview will air on all ABC News programs and platforms. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) KIM DAVIS
Surrounded by Rowan County Sheriff's deputies, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, center, with her son Nathan Davis standing by her side, makes a statement to the media at the front door of the Rowan County Judicial Center in Morehead, Ky., Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. Davis announced that her office will issue marriage licenses under order of a federal judge, but they will not have her name or office listed. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, right, with her son Nathan Davis at her side, makes a statement to the media at the front door of the Rowan County Judicial Center in Morehead, Ky., Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. Davis announced that her office will issue marriage licenses under order of a federal judge, but they will not have her name or office listed. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis makes a statement to the media at the front door of the Rowan County Judicial Center in Morehead, Ky., Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. Davis announced that her office will issue marriage licenses under order of a federal judge, but they will not have her name or office listed. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 14: Rowan County clerk Kim Davis walks through the halls of the courthouse on her first day back to work, after being released from jail last week, at the Rowan County Courthouse September 14, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Davis was jailed for disobeying a judges order for denying marriage licenses to gay couples on the basis of her religious faith. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
GRAYSON, KY - SEPTEMBER 8: Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis (L) holds her hands in the air with her attorney Mat Staver (C) and her husband Joe Davis (R) in front of the Carter County Detention Center on September 8, 2015 in Grayson, Kentucky. Davis was ordered to jail last week for contempt of court after refusing a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, left, at her side, greets the crowd after being released from the Carter County Detention Center, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in Grayson, Ky. Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, was released Tuesday after five days behind bars. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis pauses as she speaks after being released from the Carter County Detention Center, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in Grayson, Ky. Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, was released Tuesday after five days behind bars. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
GRAYSON, KY - SEPTEMBER 8: Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis (2L) joins hands with her attorney Mat Staver (2R), husband Joe Davis (R) and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (L) in front of the Carter County Detention Center on September 8, 2015 in Grayson, Kentucky. Davis was ordered to jail last week for contempt of court after refusing a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, left, at her side, greets the crowd after being released from the Carter County Detention Center, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in Grayson, Ky. Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, was released Tuesday after five days behind bars. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, center with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, left, and attorney Mat Staver, right, founder of the Liberty Counsel, the Christian law firm representing Davis, at her side, greets the crowd after being released from the Carter County Detention Center, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in Grayson, Ky. Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, was released Tuesday after five days behind bars. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
GRAYSON, KY - SEPTEMBER 8: Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis (L) walks off stage with her husband Joe Davis (R) in front of the Carter County Detention Center on September 8, 2015 in Grayson, Kentucky. Davis was ordered to jail last week for contempt of court after refusing a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
GRAYSON, KY - SEPTEMBER 8: Kim Davis, Clerk of Courts in Rowan County, Kentucky, looks over at Mike Huckabee after she was released from six days of incarceration at the Carter County Detention Center on September 8, 2015 in Grayson, Kentucky. Davis was ordered to jail last week for contempt of court after refusing a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
Musicians lead protesters in hymns outside the Carter County Detention Center in Grayson, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. Presidential candidates former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz each planned jailhouse meetings Tuesday with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who remains behind bars over her refusal to give marriage licenses to gay couples. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
GRAYSON, KY - SEPTEMBER 8: People hold signs in support of Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis during a rally in front of the Carter County Detention Center on September 8, 2015 in Grayson, Kentucky. Davis was ordered to jail last week for contempt of court after refusing a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
This Thursday, Aug. 3, 2015 photo made available by the Carter County Detention Center shows Kim Davis. The Rowan County, Ky. clerk went to jail Thursday for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, but five of her deputies agreed to comply with the law, ending a two-month standoff. (Carter County Detention Center via AP)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, right, talks with David Moore following her office's refusal to issue marriage licenses at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Although her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied, Davis still refuses to issue marriage licenses. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis listens to a customer following her office's refusal to issue marriage licenses at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Although her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied, Davis still refuses to issue marriage licenses. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, center, talks with protesters following her office's refusal to issue marriage licenses at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Tuesday, Sep. 1, 2015. Although her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied, Davis still refuses to issue marriage licenses. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, foreground left, is greeted as she arrives for work at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Davis' appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was turned down on Monday, and now she is under federal orders to begin issuing marriage licenses. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the couples suing Davis, had said she made material changes to the marriage forms, which put her out of compliance with Bunning's orders to issue the licenses as part of her job. ACLU lawyers had asked for Davis to be held in contempt and her office to be put in receivership.

ACLU lawyer Ria Mar said Bunning's ruling could not be appealed, and it is for a state court to decide the validity of the altered licenses.

"The bottom line is that all loving couples in Rowan County can now receive marriage licenses, and we'll continue to fight to ensure that remains the case," she said.

Davis's lawyers had said she had taken reasonable steps to comply with the judge's orders and should not face further contempt citations.

"From the beginning we have said the ACLU is not interested in marriage licenses," said Davis' lawyer Mat Staver. "They want Kim Davis' scalp."

Kentucky's attorney general previously said the altered licenses were valid. In December, newly elected Republican Governor Matt Blevin ordered count clerks' names removed from marriage license forms to honor people's religious beliefs.

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