A Kentucky county clerk who says same-sex marriage goes against God and nature wants the state to set up an online system for issuing marriage licenses so public employees with religious objections like his don’t have to serve same-sex couples.
Casey County Clerk Casey Davis, who refuses to issue licenses for same-sex marriages, addressed supporters from the steps of his county’s courthouse Monday, then went to the state capitol in Frankfort, where he discussed his idea for the online system with reporters.
“I am firmly against same-sex marriage,” he told supporters at the courthouse in Liberty, the county seat (watch the full speech below). “I don’t believe that that’s the way God intended.” For those who don’t believe in God, he said, “I also don’t believe that’s the way nature is intended. ... Nature’s law does not agree with the homosexual lifestyle.”
Davis said he wants his children to grow up in a nation where they will be able to do their jobs without violating their religious principles. He also said he respected gay people’s fight for their rights, adding, “Just because I disagree with them does not make me a bigot.”
In Frankfort, he sought a meeting with Gov. Steve Beshear. The governor was out of town, but his chief of staff met briefly with Davis and promised him a later session with Beshear, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.
Earlier Monday, at an economic development event in Lexington, Beshear told reporters he would be happy to discuss the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling with any public official. “But my position is clear because I took the same oath they did, and that oath is to uphold that constitutional ruling, regardless as to what you feel about it,” the governor said. “But I’ll talk to them. I certainly encourage them to go ahead and perform their duties and move along.”
Davis has contended that his position is similar to that of Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, who refused to appeal a federal court ruling striking down the state’s anti–marriage equality law, so the state hired private attorneys to do so. But Beshear said the two situations aren’t comparable, as no statute requires the attorney general to appeal every case.
After meeting with the Democratic governor’s aide, Davis suggested to reporters at the capitol that an online system for marriage licenses would solve the problem of religious objections by county clerks and their staffs, the Herald-Leader reports. But it’s unclear how much such a system would cost, and it could be problematic.
For instance, state law requires parental consent for anyone between the ages of 16 and 18 to obtain a marriage license, and a judge’s approval for anyone under 16, the Associated Press notes. “Without seeing someone in person, that could be difficult,” Bill May, executive director of the Kentucky County Clerks Association, told the AP.
Elsewhere in Kentucky, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has shut down all marriage operations in her office in reaction to the marriage equality ruling. Four couples, two same-sex and two opposite-sex, filed suit against her in federal court last week. A preliminary hearing is set for Monday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, the Herald-Leader reports.
Meanwhile, a right-wing group called the Family Foundation has set up a legal defense fund for public officials who face lawsuits over their religious objections to same-sex marriage. Executive director Kent Ostrander also wants Gov. Beshear to issue an executive order or hold a special session on religious freedom. “In this marriage matter, there is no reason for the force of government to come against citizens and workers with deeply held religious convictions,” Ostrander told the Herald-Leader.