Beshear to defiant county clerks: Do your job or resign
FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Do your job or resign, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear told county clerks who are refusing to issue marriage licenses.
Beshear met Wednesday for one hour with Casey County Clerk Casey Davis, one of three clerks who is not granting licenses. After the meeting, the governor said he would not call a special session as some elected officials have requested.
The clerks are objecting on religious grounds to the governor's executive order following last month's Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage across the country.
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"The rest of the county clerks are complying with the law regardless of their personal beliefs," Beshear said in a statement. "The courts and the voters will deal appropriately with the rest."
Beshear did not make himself available for questions. A spokesman handed out paper copies of the statement after the meeting.
Davis said after the meeting that he would neither issue marriage licenses nor resign. Several people who came to Frankfort in support of Davis applauded.
"Nature's law will supersede any law that man puts on a piece of paper," Davis told reporters, quoting occasionally from scripture. "My job cannot go beyond what my conscious allows."
Davis said he would be willing to be jailed over his refusal to issue marriage licenses.
Davis said 60 county clerks had agreed that Beshear needed to call a special session. Yet a spokesman for the governor's office said Beshear had only received letters from two clerks.
Kent Ostrander, executive director of the Family Foundation, said he was disappointed that Beshear didn't change his mind.
The American Civil Liberties Union last week sued Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis over her refusal to issue marriage licenses, and Ostrander said the governor's inaction leaves more clerks vulnerable to lawsuits.
"That is like releasing attack dogs on state employees," Ostrander said. "The governor should step up and protect his employees and resolve this matter gracefully."
Beshear said a special session, which costs about $60,000 a day, would be costly and unnecessary. He said the General Assembly should instead consider any legislation during the 2016 regular session.
Sen. Albert Robinson, R-London, stood outside Beshear's office Wednesday in support of the clerks' request.
"Gladly I'll give up my (special session) pay. All my compensation -- I'll give it up in order to do this," Robinson said. "I'm sure other legislators will."
House Speaker Greg Stumbo has called for a special session and said he was drafting legislation. Stumbo's proposal would have those authorized to perform marriages also issue licenses, which county clerks would merely record, a spokesman said.
Senate President Robert Stivers said earlier this week that Beshear should issue another executive order taking into consideration the clerks' "religious liberties." The legislature could then come up with a more permanent solution next year, Stivers said, without elaborating.
Beshear's statement did not clearly explain whether he planned to initiate legal action against the defiant clerks.
"The courts and the voters will deal appropriately" with them, Beshear's statement said.
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