FRANKFORT (AP) — 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.”
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.
The American Civil Liberties Union’s Kentucky office has already filed a lawsuit against Rowan County Clerk of Court Kim Davis, asking a judge to force her to issue marriage licenses to two gay couples and to straight couples. All of the couples were denied a license.
But Beshear seemed unconcerned about the clerks’ actions when speaking with reporters at an event earlier in the day in Lexington.
“I don’t think anyone really is being too inconvenienced now because we have so many clerks doing their jobs,” Beshear said. “I think the rest of them, it will either get worked out in court or the ballot box.”
A number of Casey County voters do not appear upset with Casey Davis’ decision. Monday morning, WLEX-TV reported that hundreds showed up at the Casey County Courthouse to support Davis, some holding signs reading that Davis is “the man in support of God’s divine plan.”
And the Family Foundation of Kentucky announced Monday his group was forming a “Kentucky religious liberty defense fund” to raise money to defend the clerks and others, including pastors, from lawsuits attempting to force them to participate in same-sex marriages.
“I’m fine with the choice that (same-sex couples) have made, and I actually respect the stand that they have made,” Casey Davis said. “I’m just asking them to respect the stand that I’m trying to make. … I took an oath to do this job to the best of my ability ‘so help me God,’ and my ability cannot go beyond what my conscience allows.”