Marriage license bill once again delayed in Senate committee

02/03/2016 01:54 PM

FRANKFORT – For the second time, Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Sen. Steve West, R-Paris, was not heard by the Senate State and Local Government committee on Wednesday.

The legislation came about after several county clerks’ objection to signing marriage licenses for same-sex couples in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

Shortly after taking office, Gov. Matt Bevin issued an executive order removing the requirement of clerks’ signatures, and the legislation would essentially codify that order.

Committee Chair Sen. Joe Bowen, R-Owensboro, said the reason for the delay is in an effort to get all of the language in the bill ironed out and to appease a slew of different parties — from Bevin to clerks themselves.

“I talked with the sponsor of the bill earlier in the day, and quite frankly there’s just a couple different wrinkles that they need to get ironed out,” Bowen said. “There’s a lot of collaboration between the sponsor, between the executive branch, and the clerks.”

Bowen believes that the bill could come to his committee as early as next week but says that, as of now, there’s no consensus on the language at this time.

Kentucky Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman admits that he was disappointed that the bill wasn’t heard, but says that he is confident that the bill will be in order in the near future.

“What we’re hearing is that something is going to come forward, it’s just not clear what it will be,” Hartman said. “At the end of the day, everyone is still going to be able to get a marriage license, LBGT couples, straight couples; it’s just a question of what that final form is going to look like.”

Hartman said that his organization would be anxious to see what the final language is and raise any concerns that they might have and possibly suggest some revisions of their own.

Even though Hartman is happy that all citizens, including LBGT couples, can now get a marriage license in the state, he wonders if a dangerous precedent is being set in the case of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, in the fact that the law is being changed to accommodate a government official who didn’t want carry out the duties that were part of her job.

“Unfortunately, this does send a message that if I’m a government official, or an elected official, and I don’t want to do part of my job, the Kentucky General Assembly will accommodate me in some way,” Hartman said. “That is a dangerous message to send.”


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