Gov. Beshear: Issue same-sex marriage licenses

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear told the state’s county clerks of court Friday to immediately issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

“Neither your oath nor the Supreme Court dictates what you must believe. But as elected officials, they do prescribe how we must act,” Beshear wrote in a letter to clerks of court in Kentucky’s 120 counties. “Effective today, Kentucky will recognize as valid all same sex marriages performed in other states and in Kentucky.”

The Department of Libraries and Archives has prepared a gender neutral form and will send it to county clerks on Friday, along with instructions on how to use it. Beshear said clerks should consult their county attorneys with specific questions, but he added, “I know that Kentuckians are law abiding people and will respect the rule of law.”

Beshear, a Democrat, made national news in 2014 when he bucked the state’s Democratic attorney general and hired private lawyers to defend the state’s same sex marriage ban in court. But Beshear never revealed his personal opinion about gay marriage.

“Kentuckians, and indeed all Americans, deserved a final determination of what the law in this country would be, and that is the reason we pursued an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Beshear said in a news release. “Today’s opinion finally provides that clarity.”

In addition to his instructions to county clerks, Beshear ordered all cabinet agencies to “immediately alter any policies necessary to implement the decision from the Supreme Court.” He promised to report additional policy changes in the coming days.

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