Wednesday, December 23, 2015

New Kentucky Governor Issues Executive Order Removing County Clerks Names From Marriage Licenses

Newly elected Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky has issued an executive order removing the requirement for county clerks names on marriage licenses.

For months County clerk Kim Davis asked that the governor's office make such a change so she would not be, at least in her eyes, a "party" to a same-sex marriage.

Outgoing Gov. Beshear insisted his office did not have the authority to change state law. It appears some legal minds still agree with Beshear.

Bevin's order on marriage licenses directs the state Department of Libraries and Archives to change the wording on forms so that the names of county clerks are not required to appear. The issue gained national attention after Davis, Rowan County's clerk, refused to sign off the forms, citing her Apostolic Christian beliefs and objections to same-sex marriage.

Beshear argued for months that state statute determined the wording on marriage licenses and that he could not remove clerks' names. However, Bevin's press release states that the change is needed to "ensure that the sincerely held religious beliefs of all Kentuckians are honored."

William Sharp, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, released a statement saying that Bevin's action has created a cloud of uncertainty over marriage licenses in the state.

"The requirement that the county clerk's name appear on marriage licenses is prescribed by Kentucky law and is not subject to unilateral change by the governor - conceded by the previous administration in court filings," he said. "Today, however, a new administration claims to have that authority."

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