Kentucky will remove county clerk names from marriage licenses

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Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, flanked by Republic presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, left, Attorney Mathew Staver, second right, and her husband Joe Davis, right, celebrates her release from the Carter County Detention center in Grayson, Kentucky on September 8, 2015. U.S. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Chris Tilley
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-MARSHALL-COLUMN, originally transmitted on September 10, 2015, or with RNS-STETZER-COLUMN, originally transmitted on Dec. 30, 2015, or with RNS-GUSHEE-COLUMN, originally transmitted on Jan. 6, 2016.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, flanked by Republic presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, left, Attorney Mathew Staver, second right, and her husband Joe Davis, right, celebrates her release from the Carter County Detention center in Grayson, Kentucky on September 8, 2015. U.S. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Chris Tilley *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-MARSHALL-COLUMN, originally transmitted on September 10, 2015, or with RNS-STETZER-COLUMN, originally transmitted on Dec. 30, 2015, or with RNS-GUSHEE-COLUMN, originally transmitted on Jan. 6, 2016.

LOUISVILLE (Reuters) – Kentucky’s governor on Wednesday signed into law a bill that removes county clerks’ names from the state marriage license forms at the center of a controversy involving an official jailed last year for refusing to issue licenses to gay couples.

Senate Bill 216, signed by Republican Governor Matt Bevin, also creates a single form that either heterosexual or same-sex couples can use. Applicants can choose between being called bride, groom or spouse.

“We now have a single form that accommodates all concerns. Everyone benefits from this common sense legislation,” Bevin said in an emailed statement. “There is no additional cost or work required by our county clerks. They are now able to fully follow the law without being forced to compromise their religious liberty.”

Last summer, Kentucky drew international attention and demonstrations after Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis refused to issue licenses to gay couples following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

In the days after the ruling, Davis cited her Apostolic Christian beliefs defining marriage as a union exclusively reserved for heterosexual couples for her stand. Even though county clerks do not perform marriage ceremonies in Kentucky, she argued that her name on the document equaled her approval.

Four couples sued Davis in federal court for her refusal to do her job, and a judge ruled her in contempt of court and jailed her for five days. After being released, Davis would not let her name appear on such licenses, requiring her deputies to use the title notary public on the form.

While the plaintiffs raised concerns about such changes, state officials said the licenses would be deemed valid.

Bevin, who won election last year thanks to many of Davis’ supporters, campaigned on making changes to the form and issued an executive order just weeks after being inaugurated last December. The bill, whose final version was passed unanimously in both chambers, codified Bevin’s order.

After the senate vote on April 1, Michael Aldridge, executive director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, welcomed a move that created a uniform license for everyone. The ACLU chapter represents the couples suing Davis in court.

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  • CarrotCakeMan

    It’s always so sad to see anti-gays claim that their attacks on LGBT Americans are a “Christian belief.” Here is the result of such attacks, and the photo above:

    “Among those who say they left their childhood religion and now have no religious identity, nearly one in four (24 percent) say their church’s negative teachings or treatment of LGBT people was an important reason they left. That rises to 31 percent of millennials, damaging churches’ ability to bring in — and keep — young adults”

    http://religionnews.com/2014/02/26/gay-marriage-lgbt-prri-pew-religion/

  • Rick

    And when a Catholic clerk refuses to issue marriage licenses to divorced people who are seeking to remarry, will the governor and legislature also be so quick to provide relief from this blatant violation of their religious rights?
    C’mon folks! This isn’t about that at all? It’s about doing the secular job you signed up for, not teaching Sunday school.

  • fed

    Finally, Kim Davis can pray in peace.

  • Larry J Overfield

    Let’s see, Kentucky has to pass legislation on an opinion by the SCOTUS that everyone is calling law. I guess I need to go back to school, I thought I learned that only Congress can make laws. I hope I can afford this schooling, well at least it won’t cost me as much as it is costing the Nation to bow down to this Oligarchy of the Supreme Court.

  • Garson Abuita

    Yes, you do need to go back to school, because apparently they skipped Marbury v. Madison.

  • Garson Abuita

    The relief has already been provided. I don’t like what Davis did anymore than anyone else, but this is actually good government. It takes out the middleman and makes for a more seamless way of getting a marriage license, which I might not need to tell you, can be a bureaucratic hassle no matter where you live or the sexualities of the couple.