Politics

Casey County Clerk Casey Davis has refused to issue marriage licenses since the Supreme Court last month struck down same-sex marriage bans throughout the U.S.

On Thursday, Davis met with Gov. Steve Beshear to discuss his concerns.

After the meeting, Davis said he still won’t issue marriage licenses.

“His position was that we are to obey the law regardless of our personal beliefs,” Davis said of his meeting with Beshear.

Davis is one of at least two Kentucky county clerks refusing to issue marriage licenses to any couple.

Before his meeting with Beshear, Davis said that he would be willing to go to jail for not issuing marriage licenses.

“If that’s what it takes for me to express the freedom of religion that I believe I was born with, then I’m willing to do that,” Davis said.

“Nature’s law will supersede any law that man puts on a piece of paper, that’s why I’ve taken the stand that I’ve taken. I don’t believe that this lifestyle agrees with nature’s law.”

In a statement released after the meeting, Beshear reiterated his directive that all county clerks issue marriage licenses to qualified applicants “regardless of gender.” Most county clerks are complying with the law regardless of their personal beliefs, Beshear said.

“The courts and the voters will deal appropriately with the rest,” Beshear said.

Beshear also said that the Casey County attorney has advised Davis to abide by his oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and its laws.

Two same-sex and two opposite-sex couples represented by the ACLU of Kentucky are suing Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis for denying them marriage licenses.

Kentucky Family Foundation Executive Director Kent Ostrander said that state legislators need to deliberate over ways to protect county clerks so that the issue isn’t resolved in the court system.

“That is like releasing attack dogs on state employees. The governor should step up and protect his employees and resolve this matter gracefully,” Ostrander said as same-sex marriage opponents gathered in the Capitol on Monday.

The Family Foundation has set up a legal defense fund for clerks who refuse to issue marriage licenses because of their religious convictions.

About half of Kentucky’s 120 county clerks have signed a letter urging Beshear to call a special session so that lawmakers can pass a law altering Kentucky’s marriage laws, according to Kentucky County Clerks Association President Chris Jobe.

The governor has said he won’t call a special session.

Several clerks and supporters showed up in the Capitol to encourage Davis and his petition for a change to Kentucky’s marriage laws.

Davis wants the state to offer marriage licenses online and for the state to remove the requirement for county clerks issue marriage licenses.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.