Do we need to know how many same-sex marriages have happened now or in the future?
Alexandria – Do we need to know how many same-sex marriages have happened now or in the future?
Kentucky’s marriage licenses no longer track gender after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage June 26. Northern Kentucky county clerks say they have not been tracking same-sex marriages separately and first names are not a way to tell gender.
Marriage license forms created by Kentucky’s Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA) record “Party 1” and “Party 2” now instead of “Bride” and “Groom.”
Campbell County Clerk Jim Luersen said he thinks his office has issued about 20 same-sex marriage licenses.
“A year from now if you ask me how many we’ve had I guess we’ll give a ballpark figure,” Luersen said.
It’s easy to keep anecdotal track of the number because same-sex couples they are “pretty obvious” when they come to the office, Luersen said.
There’s no written record of how many same-sex marriage licenses are issued. “I don’t think that would be appropriate,” he said.
Luersen said county clerks are talking about asking state lawmakers to require marriage licenses to track gender. Genealogists or anyone looking at marriage licenses years from now will not be able to determine the gender of either party involved using the existing form, he said.
“I personally would like to have gender on there,” Luersen said. “The more information, the better.”
Luersen said the same state law gives KDLA authority to provide additional information beyond what state law requires including gender.
“Statute KRS 402.100 1(b) sets forth vital information to be included on marriage licenses,” said Cathy Lindsey, a spokeswoman for KDLA in an emailed statement. “Gender is not included.”
Vital information clerks are required to ask in a marriage license under Kentucky law include: “Full name, date of birth, place of birth, race, condition (single, widowed, or divorced), number of previous marriages, occupation, current residence, relationship to the other party, and full names of parents.”
Boone County Clerk Kenny Brown said tracking gender is one of several changes to marriage license laws clerks are talking about.
“Especially for names like Kelly, Pat, Tracy and others, I mean, those are all names that both genders use as a first name,” Brown said.
Brown said he is working with Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, to file a bill requiring marriages to be recorded online the way business filings are done.
“I’d like it to be called a record of marriage and not be sanctioned by any elected official at all,” Brown said.
KDLA’s form still asks people getting married their race. “I don’t know why they would need race,” he said.
Gender, for genealogists and others, seems more useful than race, Brown said.
Kenton County Clerk Gabrielle Summe said she can’t even guess the number of same-sex licenses issued by her office since June 26.
“I absolutely do not know because I also have two physical offices,” Summe said, referring to the clerk’s Independence location.
“I haven’t even been tracking it,” she said of gender.
Clerks have asked KDLA if two different forms can be used, but state law stipulates using one form for all marriages, Summe said.
“If the KDLA thinks it is important to track, that’s something we’ll be more than happy to add,” Summe said of a field for gender. (KPA)
Chris Mayhew, The Kentucky Enquirer