LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who spent five days in jail for defying federal court orders and refusing same-sex marriage licenses, was given tickets to the president's final State of the Union address, an invitation-only event.
Davis' lawyer, Mat Staver, announced Tuesday morning that he and Davis would attend the speech. But he declined to say which member of Congress provided the tickets, fueling hours of speculation over who invited the divisive clerk.
The mystery was solved Tuesday evening when Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, who leads the conservative House Freedom Caucus, acknowledged that his staff gave Davis a ticket.
First lady Michelle Obama, on the other hand, invited Jim Obergefell, lead plaintiff in the case in which the United States Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage across the nation. He will sit in the box with the first lady and Jill Biden, the vice president's wife.
After the Supreme Court's decision, Davis, the clerk of Rowan County, cited "God's authority" and refused to issue marriage licenses, despite a series of federal court orders. She quickly became a darling of the religious right. Politicians, including presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee, flocked to a rally on the jailhouse lawn during her brief stint behind bars.
The Huffington Post reported that Jordan did not know until Tuesday, hours after Davis' announcement, that his own staffers had provided her with a ticket.
Jordan later said the Family Research Council, a conservative lobbying organization, asked his staff to extend a ticket to Davis.
It remains uncertain who provided Staver's ticket. Every lawmaker gets one guest ticket to President Barack Obama's annual speech.
Staver, founder of the law firm Liberty Counsel that advocates against gay rights, said he and Davis would be seated in the House chamber "to stand for religious freedom and to represent Judeo-Christian values."
"I think when it became more clear that President Obama was going to tick off his so-called accomplishments in the last seven years, the decision was made to invite Kim Davis to be a visible reminder that his policies have not encompassed all of American citizens and, particularly, Kim Davis with respect to religious freedom and marriage," Staver told The Associated Press.
He added that "she's there as a visible reminder of that, his policies have actually hurt religious freedom and marriage and to encourage people to stand for these values."