LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Defiant Kentucky clerk Kim Davis stood on a stage in a Washington, D.C., hotel Friday night and spread her arms triumphantly.
“I am only one, but we are many,” she exclaimed to the crowd, and thanked God for the courage to continue her crusade against gay marriage.
Davis, who spent five days behind bars in early September for violating a federal court order, was honored by conservative lobbying group Family Research Council Friday night for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the Supreme Court’s decision in June that effectively legalized gay marriage across the nation.
Earlier in the day, Davis, a lifelong Democrat, announced she is switching to the Republican Party because she feels abandoned by Democrats.
“I’ve always been a Democrat, but the party left me,” Davis said, according to the law firm representing her.
After the Supreme Court’s decision, a federal judge ordered Davis to issue the licenses, but she refused, and opted to spend five days in jail rather than license a gay marriage. The ordeal propelled her to folk hero status among some on the religious right.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, invited her and her husband Joe onto the stage Friday night, presented her with flowers and a poster-sized framed certificate and called her a “model of personal courage.”
Davis was elected Rowan County clerk last fall as a Democrat. She replaced her mother, also a Democrat, who served as county clerk for 37 years.
But Republicans, not Democrats, came to her defense.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist preacher running for president but trailing badly in the polls, rushed to Davis’ side, visited her in jail and held a religious freedom rally on the jailhouse lawn. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also traveled to Kentucky to bask in her defiance.
Davis meanwhile lumps blame for her legal problems on Steve Beshear, the state’s Democratic governor, who refused to call the state legislature for a special session and allow lawmakers to hammer out a way to exempt religious clerks from issuing the licenses. The governor instead told clerks to either issue the licenses or resign.
So when a Reuters reporter asked her in Washington on Friday about the support she’d received from the GOP, Davis revealed that she decided last week to switch her allegiances to the Republican ticket, her attorney, Mat Staver, wrote in a statement.