County clerks request special session; Gov. Beshear still says 'no'
07/09/2015 05:57 PM
Correction: Only 10 clerks as of Monday, July 13 have signed on to a letter calling for a special session of the legislature.
FRANKFORT – Fifty-seven county clerks form every region of the commonwealth sent a formal letter to Gov. Steve Beshear on Wednesday requesting that he immediately call for a special session of the General Assembly to address issues relating to issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
Casey County Clerk Casey Davis, who has stopped issuing marriage licenses altogether to avoid issuing them to same-sex couples, visited with Beshear in Frankfort on Thursday where Beshear reiterated his stance that he will not call a special session on the subject.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who is the other judge-executive who has chosen not to issue any marriage licenses, is facing a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union.
Boone County Clerk Kenny Brown, who is one of the clerks who sent the letter to Beshear, says the most important issue in his mind is that clerks First Amendment rights he says are being violated because their office is being forced to issue same-sex marriage licenses which are against the religious beliefs of some.
“They do have deeply held religious beliefs and daily we’re putting those in conflict with our job duties,” Brown said.
Brown says the solution is legislation which would take the job of issuing marriage licenses away from the county clerks and have it fall to possibly the Secretary of State.
“The couple would go populate all of the pertinent information on a web site, even pay for the license there on-line, print that off, take it to whoever they want to officiate their wedding, sign off that the service was performed, and then we would handle it on the back end just like a deed or mortgage recording,” Brown said. “The big thing for the county clerks is our names will be off of it, we would not be sanctioning, licensing or approving of it.”
Some in the state feel that if a clerk doesn’t want to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples as a result of the Supreme Court ruling then he or she should resign for not doing their job and performing the duties that they were elected to do.
Brown admits that he wrestled with that, but, in the end, felt it would be good to join other county clerks in the request to change the process.
Brown warns that issue will not go away.
“With 75 percent of the people voting 10 years ago to define marriage and restrict same-sex marriage in Kentucky, some clerk, somewhere, is going to get elected and they’re going to shut this down,” Brown said. “We’re going to start this all over again unless we remedy this and get it out of elected official’s hands.”
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