Kentucky Governor To Court Clerk: Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses Or Resign

| by Ethan Brown

A county clerk in Kentucky is refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, defying the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling that legalized same-sex marriages in all states, numerous objections from civil rights groups, and the state’s governor.

Casey Davis, the clerk in Casey County, Kentucky, has refused to issue licenses to at least seven same-sex couples so far, using his religious views on marriage as his defense, according to Newsweek. Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear reportedly spoke with Davis in person on July 9 to give him an ultimatum: start issuing marriage licenses for all couples or resign from the position.

After the story was first reported, Beshear issued a lengthier statement from his office explaining his conversation with Davis in greater detail.

“I advised Mr. Davis that I respect his right to his own personal beliefs regarding same-sex marriages," Beshear said in the statement. "However, when he was elected, he took a constitutional oath to uphold the United States Constitution.

"One of Mr. Davis' duties as county court clerk is to issue marriage licenses, and the Supreme Court now says that the United States Constitution requires those marriage licenses to be issued regardless of gender."

After the meeting, Davis told reporters that the Governor told him to “issue marriage licenses or resign – those were the words."

“I can’t quit … I have a mortgage to pay,” he added.

Earlier in the week, Davis spoke to the Associated Press and suggested an idea that he believed would please all parties involved in the current controversy.

“We bank online. We buy groceries online … We buy hunting and fishing licenses online. I think we can buy marriage licenses online," Davis said. "And that relieves the 120 county clerks of this state."

Speaking to another reporter with local news station WAVE in Kentucky, Davis said he would not resign from his post or begin to issue licenses.

“Nature’s law will supersede any law that man puts on a piece of paper," he said. "My job cannot go beyond what my conscience allows.”

Kim Davis, a clerk working in Rowan County and no relation to Casey Davis, denied a license to a same-sex couple earlier this week. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has sued Kim on behalf of the couples affected by her decision.

So far, the ACLU has not filed a lawsuit against Casey Davis, but remains open to the possibility. A spokesperson for the Kentucky affiliate told reporters that the group “asked folks if their rights have been violated to be in contact with us.”

Despite requests to call a special legislative session to figure out a plan that benefits all participants, Beshear said he would not do so, citing the high costs of running a special session, which would amount to as much as $60,000 per day, according to the Lexington Herald Leader.

Sources: Newsweek, NBC News, Lexington Herald Leader

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr, Fibonacci Blue/Flickr