Kentucky Governor & County Clerk In Standoff Over Same-Sex Marriage

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One county clerk in Kentucky is still refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite Gov. Steve Beshear’s (D) order that clerks must issue the licenses or be fired.

Beshear on Thursday met with Casey County Clerk Casey Davis, who says he objects to gay marriage for religious reasons, prompting him not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. Following their hour-long meeting, the governor issued a statement saying that Davis must issue licenses to gay couples.

“This morning, I advised Mr. Davis that I respect his right to his own personal beliefs regarding same-sex marriages. However, when he was elected, he took a constitutional oath to uphold the United States Constitution,” Beshear said in a Thursday statement. “According to the United States Supreme Court, the Constitution now requires that governmental officials in Kentucky and elsewhere must recognize same-sex marriages as valid and allow them to take place. 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.”

Davis said the meeting was “cordial” and that the governor “respectfully disagreed with my position.” However, he said that he would continue to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Davis, along with a few other county clerks in the state, had also asked Beshear to consider calling a special legislative session to clarify statutes pertaining to same-sex marriage licenses. But Beshear refused on Tuesday and reiterated that stance in a Thursday statement.

“It’s time for everyone to take a deep breath. There is no need to spend $60,000 a day of taxpayers’ dollars calling a special session of the General Assembly, and therefore I will not be calling a special session on this topic. If there are any minor changes needed to clarify the language of statutes, any such changes can be made in the 2016 legislative session in January,” Beshear said in a Tuesday statement.

Though Beshear twice refused to call a special session, Davis on Thursday insisted that spending $60,000 on a special session would be worth it.

“I don’t think $60,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of what we will lose if we don’t take a stand for what we believe in today,” he said on Thursday, according to Lexington television station WKYT.

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