Louisville— “We celebrate the creation of a marriage license that omits the county clerk’s name thus avoiding the perception of an endorsement of same-sex marriages by the clerks,” said Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, after Gov. Matt Bevin signed the measure Thursday in his state Capitol office in Frankfort.
The legislation, which creates one marriage license form for both homosexual and straight couples, was enacted to resolve an issue created when Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was jailed five days for refusing to issue licenses to same-sex couples. Because of her sincerely held religious beliefs regarding the traditional view of marriage, Davis said she couldn’t issue the licenses since the form had her name on them.
“This matter was rightly perceived as a religious liberty issue for county clerks who hold to a biblical definition of marriage,” Chitwood said.
The new law does not require the county clerk’s to sign and issue the licenses, and applicants will have an option of checking “bride,” “groom” or “spouse” beside their name.
The bill’s final version passed the state’s General Assembly without any opposition, clearing the Democratic-led House on a 97-0 vote and the Republican-controlled Senate by a 36-0 vote.
“Everyone benefits from this common-sense legislation,” Bevin said in a statement. “There is no additional cost or work required by our county clerks. They are now able to fully follow the law without being forced to compromise their religious liberty.”
The legislation, which takes effect this summer, drew praise from Kentucky Baptist leaders.
“As Kentuckians, we stand with our Governor as a people desiring to fully express our religious liberty without risk of violating law or conscience,” said Neal Thornton, chairman of the KBC Public Affairs Committee.
“As Kentucky Baptists, we applaud our Governor’s legislative decision,” added Thornton, pastor of First Baptist Church of Mt. Vernon. “His position and posture help create a commonwealth conducive for the spreading of the gospel and the legal protection of our churches.”
The Supreme Court has redefined marriage, making gay marriage legal, KBC President
Kevin Smith observed, “so states and municipalities are having to work through the bureaucratic paperwork of that” decision.
“I’m glad it’s done (in Kentucky), but our society will reap the fruits of SCOTUS’s ruling,” added Smith. teaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville. (WR)