Davis said on Monday she is being "forced to disobey her God" by allowing her office to issue licenses to gay couples.
The first couple to apply for a license Monday was Shannon Wampler and Carmen Collins. They stood at the counter for a half-hour, dozens of reporters gathering behind them and microphones bobbing above their heads.
Deputy Clerk Brian Mason -- sitting behind a sign that reads "marriage license deputy" -- gave them a license despite his boss's objections and after a delay because of a printer problem. Protesters in the back heckled Mason, but he ignored them, initialed the license and shook the couple's hands.
He remained calm, scrolling on his computer and chewing gum, despite the surreal scene unfolding before him.
Speaking outside the Rowan County Courthouse as she returned to work, Davis announced that any licenses issued by her office, with or without her name on the form, would be "unauthorized."
"I want the whole world to know ... If any [deputy clerk] feels that they must issue an unauthorized license to avoid being thrown in jail, I understand their tough choice, and I will take no action against them. However, any unauthorized license that they issue will not have my name, my title or my authority on it. Instead, the license will state that they are issued pursuant to a federal court order."