Kim Davis spent five days in jail in 2015 for contempt of court after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning on Friday, March 18, cleared the way for a civil suit against former Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis to continue with his ruling that David knowingly violated the rights of same-sex couples by denying them marriage licenses in 2015 in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized same-sex marriage across the country.

Judge Bunning also denied Davis’ request for immunity from prosecution.

In his ruling, Judge Bunning wrote, “It is readily apparent that Obergefell recognizes plaintiffs’ Fourteenth Amendment right to marry. It is also readily apparent that Davis made a conscious decision to violate plaintiffs’ right.”

Right-wing legal group The Liberty Counsel, which is representing Davis, issued a statement on Friday declaring they will continue to fight to avoid the trial because Davis “is entitled to protection to an accommodation based on her sincere religious beliefs.”

Davis was county clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky — the office which issues marriage licenses — in June of 2015 when the Obergefell ruling was handed down. Despite having been married four different times to three different husbands, Davis claimed her religious belief in the sanctity of marriage prohibited her from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She denied a license to David Ermold and David Moore, and then, rather than issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as the law stated, she decided she just wouldn’t issue marriage licenses to anyone.

Six couples — including two same-sex couples — filed suit against Daviad on July 2. Ermold and Moore filed suit against her on July 10, and James Yates and William Smith Jr. filed suit against her on Aug. 25. Davis herself then filed suit against Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, who refused to call a special session of the state’s legislature and who ordered her (and all the other Kentucky county clerks) to issue the licenses, as the duties of her elected office required. David’s lawsuit claimed the governor should be legally liable for any damages due to her actions.

Judge Bunning issued a temporary restraining order barring Davis from enforcing her “no marriage licenses” decision and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear her appeal. When she still refused to issue licenses, claiming she was acting “under God’s authority,” Bunning sent Davis to jail, saying she would have to stay there until she agreed to follow the law.

The first day that the County Clerk’s Office was open following Davis’ incarceration, deputy clerks began issuing marriage license, including to same-sex couples.

David was released from jail five days later under orders that she could not interfere in any way with the deputy clerks issuing marriage licenses. The deputy clerks promised the judge they would continue issuing marriage licenses, no matter what Davis might tell them.

Davis eventually returned to work, a week later, saying that while she would not stop the deputy clerks from issuing marriage licenses, she still refused to issue any herself. She also ordered the deputy clerks to issue the licenses on altered forms that did not include her name.

In 2018, Davis — who had been elected in 2014 and began her term in 2015 as a Democrat — announced she would run for re-election as a Republican. While she had no challengers in the Republican Primary, she lost the general election to the Democratic nominee, Elwood Caudill Jr., the main she had only narrowly beat in the 2014 Democratic Primary. Caudill defeated Davis in the 2019 general election by a nine-point margin.