Ky. County Clerks Association will propose removing clerks' names from marriage licenses in upcoming session

08/26/2015 12:00 AM

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky County Clerks Association will propose removing clerks’ names from the document in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage.

Overturning the state’s ban on same-sex marriage has prompted Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and two others to deny licenses to all couples, drawing a federal lawsuit against Davis as well as calls to change the licensing process.

Leslie County Clerk James Lewis, chairman of the association’s elections committee, told reporters Tuesday that his group is drafting “a simple solution” to the matter.

“You would have the county and the county seat listed as where the license was issued, but no name as to whom actually issued it,” he said after a Task Force on Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs meeting. “Once it comes back for recording, then their name and signature definitely goes on the recording statement.”

KCCA has met with the state Department for Libraries and Archives on the proposed change and planned to review the form with the department on Wednesday, he said.

The association’s proposal is the fourth publicized in Kentucky since the Supreme Court’s June ruling.

Legislation pre-filed by House Minority Caucus Chair Stan Lee and two other Republicans would add exemptions for marriage licensing and solemnization under the state’s religious-liberty law, and GOP gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin has said licenses should be available online and notarized by anyone authorized to solemnize marriages.

Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway, his party’s gubernatorial nominee, has said he would be willing to consider legislation that upholds the high court’s ruling and gives county clerks some flexibility in issuing marriage licenses.

Freshman Rep. David Hale, R-Wellington, has also pre-filed legislation transferring marriage licensing from county clerks to the state registrar of vital statistics.

Lewis likes chances of his group’s proposal in next year’s session “because it seems to be probably the easiest solution.”

Providing licenses online could pose problems, he said.

“You have underage issues, how you police that, how you police the signatures of the people who are … 16 and 17 that can get married but has to have the signature of a parent or guardian,” Lewis said. “How’s that going to work online?”

Gov. Steve Beshear, after a Capitol news conference, reiterated his belief that a special session this year isn’t necessary.

Only three of the state’s 120 county clerks have refused to issue marriage licenses, and lawmakers must first agree on how to proceed, he said.

“I’ve seen no agreement on any particular approach that the legislature might want to take in January, but they’ve got four or five months to work on that and I’m sure if they want to make a change that they’ll be able to come up with something,” Beshear said, “and I would just stress that it has to be constitutional.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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