200 supporters gather at jail for Kentucky clerk held in same-sex marriage dispute
Kim Davis

Around 200 supporters gathered outside a Kentucky jail on Saturday to support a county clerk held there for defying a federal judge's order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, 49, who refused the licenses due to her 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.

On Saturday, a white banner spray-painted with the black letters "Kim Davis POW" was placed near the jail entrance and a bagpipe and drum corps from the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property played "You're a Grand Old Flag" and marched to the detention center.

About 200 people gathered in a field across from the entrance to the Carter County Detention Center in Grayson, Kentucky where Mayor George Steele welcomed them "in the name of God".

"God is going to continue to bless Kim Davis," Steele said before leading the group in prayer.

In Davis's 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.

Davis' lawyers have said they plan to appeal U.S. District Judge David Bunning's contempt order, which has no expiration date.

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.

Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, which represents Davis, said he believes the licenses issued on Friday are invalid because they lack her approval. He said Davis had no intention of resigning as clerk or acting against her beliefs.

Davis, a member of the Apostolic Christian Church which follows a literal interpretation of the Bible, has refused to issue any marriage licenses since the U.S. Supreme Court in June made gay marriage legal across the United States.

Her jailing has come to symbolize the cultural gap over gay marriage in the United States. The fight over marriage licenses for same-sex couples may not end in Kentucky. A number of judges and clerks in Texas, Alabama and elsewhere have thrown up roadblocks to same-sex marriage.

Emotions have run high on all sides. Davis, and an attorney for one of the four couples said they had received death threats. The judge also reportedly has received a death threat.

(Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)