Kentucky’s new governor vows to protect Kim Davis’ refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses

Matt Bevin

Matt Bevin Timothy D. Easley, AP

Gov.-elect Matt Bevin (R-Ky.)Timothy D. Easley, AP

Gov.-elect Matt Bevin (R-Ky.)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov.-elect Matt Bevin vowed Friday to protect a county clerk’s religious objections to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Bevin spoke publicly about his plans Friday after winning the Kentucky governor’s election with more than 52 percent of the vote in a three-way race. He will take office next month as the state’s second Republican governor in four decades, calling his election a mandate from voters to enact his policies.

One lingering issue is Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk who is locked in a legal battle over issuing same-sex marriage licenses. State law requires county clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally qualified couples. That now includes same-sex couples. But Davis believes it would be a sin for her 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.

Davis has sued current Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear for not accommodating her beliefs. Beshear has said he lacks the authority to remove the names of the county clerks from marriage licenses, arguing only the state legislature can do that. But Bevin and Davis’ attorneys disagree.

“The argument that that cannot be done is baloney. We’ve already changed those forms three times for crying out loud,” Bevin said. “We will take the names off those forms. We will do that by executive order. We will do it right out of the gate.”

Mat Staver, Davis’ lawyer, declared victory Friday, saying Bevin’s promise of an executive order is “a clear, simple path to resolving all the legal efforts on behalf of Davis.”

“Gov.-elect Bevin’s impending executive order is a welcome relief for Kim Davis and should be for everyone who cherishes religious freedom,” Staver said.

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