Metro Weekly

Bevin vows to remove clerks’ names from marriage licenses

Governor-elect of Kentucky makes overtures to county clerks who object to same-sex marriage

Matt Bevin (Photo via Facebook).

Matt Bevin (Photo via Facebook).

The exemption that Kim Davis once asked for will be granted to all county clerks in Kentucky, the state’s governor-elect has vowed.

According to Reuters, Gov.-elect Matt Bevin, a Republican, said on Friday that when he takes office in December, he will order changes to the state marriage license form to accommodate those who object to same-sex marriage.

Bevin vowed to remove the names of county clerks from the marriage forms by issuing an executive order. The state’s outgoing governor Steve Beshear — a Democrat — previously came under fire for refusing to call a special session of the legislature to pass a law allowing county clerks to refrain from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Beshear has insisted that the change Bevin is proposing cannot be done via executive order and has to be approved by the legislature.

Davis was imprisoned for five days after a federal judge found her in contempt of court for refusing to issue licenses — or allow her deputies to issue licenses, regardless of their personal beliefs — to same-sex couples, claiming it violated her religious freedom. Following her release from jail, Davis altered all marriage licenses issued by her office. She removed her name, all references to the Rowan County Clerk’s office, and included a disclaimer saying that the licenses were being issued pursuant to a federal court order.

Mat Staver, head of Liberty Counsel, the conservative legal organization defending Davis in her ongoing court fights over the changes she imposed in Rowan County, praised Bevin for “protecting the rights of conscience” of county clerks who object to same-sex marriage.

“Gov.-elect Bevin’s impending executive order is a welcome relief for Kim Davis and should be for everyone who cherishes religious freedom,” Staver said in a statement.

Despite Bevin’s promise to alter the marriage license forms, Davis will likely continue going to court to hash out the issues related to her alteration of the Rowan County forms, as the ACLU and ACLU of Kentucky have questioned whether the licenses as altered can be considered valid.

Davis recently appealed to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, asking them to reverse U.S. District Judge David Bunning’s rulings against her, including one that ordered her to begin issuing marriage licenses and another that found her in contempt. That request was later rejected.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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