Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk who is locked in a legal battle over issuing same-sex marriage licenses is back in the headlines. State law requires county clerks to issue marriage licenses to all ‘legally qualified’ couples, and that now includes same-sex couples.
Davis refused saying it is against her religious beliefs to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple. After she refused to do so, a federal judge threw her in jail for five days in September. She now wants to be able to keep her name off of marriage licenses.
The governor-elect in Kentucky – a conservative Republican who stunningly rallied from behind to defeat a powerful Democrat candidate, the state’s attorney general – says one of his first acts will be to formalize an accommodation for county clerks whose religious beliefs are being violated by demands they issue “same-sex marriage” licenses.
Matt Bevin on Friday confirmed he will work on a solution in a situation that came to a head for Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis when she refused an order from U.S. District Judge David Bunning to violate her faith and issue “same-sex marriage” licenses and he sent her to jail.
At Kentucky.com, AP reported Bevin “vowed to remove the names of county clerks from marriage licenses.”
Officials with Liberty Counsel, who have been representing Davis, and continue to fight her appeals at the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said it is a clear victory for Davis.
Liberty Counsel said in a statement, “The people of Kentucky have overwhelmingly spoken in support of Kim Davis and others who believe our nation should be a place where all people can live out their faith without fear of being put in prison. This is a day that our constitutional principles are being used as intended to protect innocent people from undue harm. This promise is a clear, simple path to resolving all the legal efforts on behalf of Davis.”
Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, added, “Kim Davis and Liberty Counsel applaud Governor Elect Matt Bevin for his leadership in protecting the rights of conscience of all county clerks.”
“It is refreshing to have someone with the integrity, character, and concern of Matt Bevin leading the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Gov. Steve Beshear could have resolved this marriage license issue a long time ago, but he chose to ignore the plea for help. Gov. Elect Bevin’s impending executive order is a welcome relief for Kim Davis and should be for everyone who cherishes religious freedom.”
When Bunning ordered Davis jailed, Bevin said in a statement campaign that such draconian actions were “utterly unnecessary.”
“There is a simple solution that would respect the rights of every Kentuckian. I first put this solution forward many weeks ago,” he said.
“Why the cowardly silence from our attorney general, Jack Conway? Jack Conway violated his oath of office as attorney general when he refused to defend our state in court. Where was our governor then demanding his resignation? The double standard applied in this case is reprehensible. Jack Conway refused to defend our state constitution, and now he is refusing to stand up for the religious liberties of our county clerks. This is unconscionable and, as governor, I will stand up for all Kentuckians, not just the ones who agree with me.”
In his plan announced weeks earlier, Bevin said Beshear should have immediately provided an accommodation for people of faith.
“When the Supreme Court changed Kentucky’s definition of marriage, it also changed the job description of our county clerks and other officials currently involved in the state sanctioning of marriage,” he said at the time.
“It is understood that Kentucky must uphold the new law and find a way to process and recognize same-sex marriage. However, that does not mean we must do so at the expense of the constitutionally afforded religious liberties of other Kentucky citizens. It is not a matter of one or the other, but rather of both. Equal protection under the law means exactly that.”
He continued: “It is incumbent upon the governor and the Kentucky legislature to represent all of the Commonwealth’s citizens, and uphold their individual liberties. To the extent those liberties come into conflict, such as in the case here, we should look for the least restrictive means to providing necessary government services. ”
Bevin pointed out that the Supreme Court’s creation of same-sex marriage left many laws and standards in doubt, and he would want to work with lawmakers to clear that up.
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