As clerks fight back against same-sex marriage ruling Beshear says no special session needed

07/07/2015 07:33 PM

As the House Speaker contemplates the need for a special session and more county clerks are planning on speaking out against an order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples Gov. Steve Beshear says the issue has already been resolved and a special legislative session is not needed.

On June 26, Beshear directed county clerks in the state to follow the U.S. and Kentucky Constitutions and issue licenses to same-sex couples regardless of deeply held beliefs.

With a 5-4 to ruling the U.S. Supreme Court decided the issue for states once and for all with a landmark decision making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states, including Kentucky who previously banned the practice via a 2004 state Constitutional amendment.

As more clerks prepare to announce their disapproval of the law House Speaker Greg Stumbo issued a statement to the Lexington Herald-Leader calling on Beshear to call a special legislative session to discuss the issue.

“Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, I believe all states need to look at their laws to see what changes might need to be made to comply with federal law,” Stumbo said in a statement obtained by Pure Politics. “States need to act quickly so that there is certainty and consistency in the application of the new law.”

“With that in mind, I am in favor of a special session to take up the issue involving county clerks and marriage licenses. We are currently drafting possible legislation that would help address the issues some of our county clerks are having as a result of the court’s ruling.”

Casey County Clerk Casey Davis, who cites religious beliefs in his refusal to issue liscenses, has attempted to meet with Beshear recently to propose a special session to allow marriage licenses be available for purchase online.

On Tuesday Beshear issued a statement noting the “strong feelings on both sides of this issue.” However, Beshear continued in his release stating that “the United States Supreme Court has spoken and same-sex marriage is now legal in Kentucky and the rest of the United States.”

“Regardless of whatever their personal feelings might be, the overwhelming majority of county clerks are following the law and carrying out their duty to issue marriage licenses regardless of gender, and the courts will deal appropriately with the two or three clerks who are acting otherwise,” Beshear said.

Beshear said his administration will continue to make appropriate changes to statue to comply with the law as decided by the high court.

“For example, the Department of Revenue has put out new guidance in the area of taxation and the Administrative Office of the Courts has issued new guidance on changing names on driver’s licenses,“he said.

In no uncertain terms Beshear continued by saying he would not be calling a special session on the topic.

“It’s time for everyone to take a deep breath,” he said. “There is no need to spend $60,000 a day of taxpayers’ dollars calling a special session of the General Assembly, and therefore I will not be calling a special session on this topic.

“If there are any minor changes needed to clarify the language of statutes, any such changes can be made in the 2016 legislative session in January.”

Republican state Senate leaders preemptively agreed with Beshear on the lack of need for a special session.

“This is a very complex issue and perhaps it would be appropriate for the Governor to issue a temporary solution via executive order until the Legislature can craft a more comprehensive solution in January,” the statement from Senate Republican legislative leaders said.


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