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Ky. clerk who objects to same‑sex marriage wants state to issue licenses online so he doesn’t have to

Casey Davis
Casey Davis MSNBC

FRANKFORT, Ky. — A Kentucky clerk of court wants the state to issue marriage licenses online so he doesn’t have to.

Casey Davis is one of a handful of county clerks across the country that have stopped issuing marriage licenses after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last month to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.

On Monday, he showed up at Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear’s office to ask him to call a special session of the state legislature to pass a law allowing people to purchase marriage licenses from the state on the Internet.

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

Beshear was not in Frankfort on Monday and did not meet with Davis, but the governor’s staff promised Davis that Beshear would meet with him soon. A spokesman said the governor would have to evaluate Davis’ proposal.

The problem is not the workload. Davis said his office issued 29 marriage licenses last year. But Davis said his Christian beliefs prohibit him from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That problem that has faced several local officials in the aftermath of the court’s historic ruling, leading some to resign and others to stop issuing marriage licenses altogether.

The clerks say they want to be treated the same as Jack Conway, the state’s Democratic attorney general. Beshear hired private attorneys to defend the state’s same-sex marriage ban after Conway declined to appeal a federal judge’s ruling because he said the ban unfairly discriminated against gay couples.

“I see no difference,” Davis said. “He was given an opportunity for conscience’s sake to bow out of a job he was elected to do.”

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But Conway does not have to appeal every case and, unlike the county clerks, did not have a court order him to do anything. And Davis’ solution could pose problems in Kentucky. State law does not allow anyone between the ages of 16 and 18 to get a marriage license without parental consent. It also doesn’t allow anyone under 16 to get a marriage license without a judge’s approval.

“Without seeing someone in person, that could be difficult,” said Bill May, executive director of the Kentucky County Clerk’s Association.

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