Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear met
Thursday with a county clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses
to gay and lesbian couples.
Casey County Clerk Casey Davis is among
the two Kentucky clerks who have pledged to defy the Supreme Court's
recent ruling striking down state bans on gay marriage. Both claim
that issuing such licenses would violate their faith. Kentucky was
directly involved in the case.
“This morning, I advised Mr. Davis
that I respect his right to his own personal beliefs regarding
same-sex marriages,” Bashear said in a written statement.
“However, when he was elected, he took a constitutional oath to
uphold the United States Constitution. 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. Mr. Davis’
own county attorney has advised him that his oath requires him to do
“While there are two or three county
court clerks still refusing to perform their duties, the rest of the
county court clerks are complying with the law regardless of their
personal beliefs. The courts and the voters will deal appropriately
with the rest.”
According to the
AP, Davis, who is elected, said after the meeting that he will go
to jail first.
“If that's what it takes for me to
express the freedom of religion that I believe I was born with, I'm
willing to do that,” Davis told reporters, his wife by his side.
Earlier this week, Lawrence County
Clerk Chris Jobe, president of the Kentucky County Clerk's
Association, announced that 57 clerks had signed a letter to Beshear
asking him to call a special legislative session to approve
legislation protecting officials who object to marriage equality.
But Beshear's office said Thursday that it has only received three
“I will not be calling any special
session on this topic and costing the taxpayers hundreds of thousands
of dollars doing so,” Beshear said. “Any proposal about the
process of issuing marriage licenses that meets the standards of the
Supreme Court ruling should be carefully thought out and could be
considered in the regular session in 2016.”
Davis insisted Thursday that he would
not resign, making him a likely subject of a lawsuit.
Kentucky couple records being denied marriage license.)