A defiant U.S. courthouse clerk, who was jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, returned to work Monday, saying she would not block her deputy from issuing them, but questioned the documents' validity without her authorization.
Hours after Kim Davis showed up at the Rowan County courthouse in Kentucky, the deputy, Brian Mason, issued a marriage license to a lesbian couple, Shannon Wampler and Carmen Collins.
Davis returned to work after being jailed for five days. A federal court judge held her in contempt and put her behind bars after she defied his order to issue the licenses, in accordance with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in June that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.
Davis, an Apostolic Christian, says gay marriage violates her religious beliefs. She has become a hero to some conservative Christians in United States with her refusal to issue the licenses for same-sex marriages.
She read from a handwritten statement as her office opened for work, saying, "I don't want to have this conflict. I don't want to be in the spotlight. And I certainly don't want to be a whipping post."
Davis said she was "no hero... just a person that's been transformed by the grace of God, who wants to work, be with my family. I just want to serve my neighbors quietly without violating my conscience."
Mason issued at least seven licenses to gay couples in her absence last week and, before the first same-sex couple sought a license Monday, said he would continue to do so.
Davis said she would not block him, but that she is not authorizing the licenses and questioned their validity without her name on them. The Kentucky governor, the state's attorney general and the county attorney have all said the licenses are legal.
One pro-gay rights group bought space on a billboard in the Kentucky city of Morehead mocking Davis's stance.
It said, "Dear Kim Davis, the fact that you can't sell your daughter for three goats and a cow means we've already redefined marriage."