With "Eye of the Tiger" blasting in the background, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis walked onstage at a rally Tuesday to praise God and thank her supporters for standing by her in her fight against same-sex marriage.
"I love you all so much," Davis said. "You are a strong people. We serve a living God, who knows exactly where each and every one of us is at. Just keep on pressing, don't let down, because he is here."
The Survivor song might seem like an odd choice for Davis, who until Tuesday was jailed for refusing to let the Rowan County clerk's office issue marriage licenses to opposite-sex and same-sex couples due to her religious objections to marriage equality.
But for supporters, the song's lyrics perfectly encapsulate Davis's journey:
Risin' up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance
Now I'm back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive
"Back on the street." "Did my time." "Went the distance." This is how Davis views her struggle.
Legally, Davis lost — her office now has to issue marriage licenses to opposite-sex and same-sex couples, and she's not allowed to interfere with that. But supporters see her release from jail as a victory, and they've vowed to keep fighting.
Davis has become a martyr for the anti-LGBTQ cause
As Tuesday's rally shows, Davis is now a figurehead for the religious right's opposition to marriage equality.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), an anti-LGBTQ group, previously issued a statement to supporters arguing that "Kim Davis is why we must fight":
Her name is Kim Davis. She's a public servant, an elected clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky. And a Christian. She is now the reluctant face of the marriage movement, the latest victim of gay intolerance and government discrimination and persecution of marriage supporters.
When Kim was elected, there were no gay 'marriages' being conducted in Kentucky. But then the US Supreme Court upended the law, illegitimately redefining marriage in the law to strip it of its essential gender complementarity.
This puts Kim Davis in a terrible spot because it's she, personally, whose name is on a marriage license in Rowan County and whose signature attests that the couple is indeed married. The trouble is that two men cannot be married to each other, nor two women — regardless of what any court states.
NOM argues that the Supreme Court and lower courts have violated the law by upholding same-sex couples' right to marry. At the root of this issue is the organization's belief that marriage can't be redefined and people can't be asked to violate their religious principles. Davis gives a face to that struggle, exemplifying the fear that an overreaching government will try to unconstitutionally enforce an agenda that violates people's religious beliefs.
But courts have been firm in deciding that government agencies have to carry out their legal duties regardless of individual officials' religious beliefs. As much as the Constitution protects Americans' right to worship as they please, it also establishes a separation between church and state — and that means government agencies can't justify institutional discrimination against gay people by citing their faith.