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Friday, December 9, 2016

By Jon Herskovitz

(Reuters) – The lawyer for a Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses said his team filed on Sunday a notice of appeal over a contempt ruling that landed her in jail.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, 49, who refused to issue the licenses due to her Apostolic Christian belief that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, said she was prepared to remain in jail where she has been reading a Bible since her incarceration for contempt on Thursday, her lawyers said.

Davis was jailed for contempt of court for refusing to follow the orders of U.S. District Judge David Bunning.

Davis’ stance has come to symbolize the cultural gap over gay marriage in the United States. Some social conservatives say she is being denied religious freedom. Others say that with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June making same-sex marriage legal nationwide, Davis is defying her duty as a public servant by refusing to implement the law of the land.

“The contempt order itself was unlawful,” Roger Gannam, a lawyer for Davis, told Reuters. Gannam is an attorney with Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based Christian religious advocacy organization that said it would back her legal fight.

The notice of appeal was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky and officially starts the appeals process.

In Davis’ absence on Friday, deputy clerks issued marriage licenses to at least four same-sex couples at the offices in Morehead, Kentucky, where rival groups of demonstrators supporting Davis and the applicants protested outside.

Bunning had ordered Davis in August to issue the licenses. Her request for a stay of his order was denied by a U.S. appeals court and by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, she is waiting for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati, Ohio, to rule on her request to set aside Bunning’s ruling. In denying the request for a stay on the order, the appeals court said there was little chance she would prevail.

On Saturday up to 500 supporters gathered outside the Kentucky jail where Davis is being held to offer their support.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Cynthia Osterman)

Photo: David Jordan, a member of Chirst Fellowship in North Carolina, preaches in support of the prayer rally at the Carter County Detention Center for Rowan County clerk Kim Davis, who remains in contempt of court for her refusal to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples, in Grayson, Kentucky September 5, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Tilley