Steve Beshear, Kentucky’s outgoing Democratic governor, will recognize the marriage licenses issued by Rowan County clerk Kim Davis even though he said the licenses weren't compliant with state law, the Associated Press (AP) reported Tuesday. Davis had removed the county name, her name and signature from the licenses in September because she did not support same-sex marriages due to her religious beliefs.
Beshear, who will exit from the governor’s office in about three weeks after conceding defeat to Republican Matt Bevin, reportedly wrote in a court filing that the marriage license forms stated that they were issued by a notary public pursuant to a federal court order. However, he said he will anyway recognize the marriage licenses as “legally effective,” the AP reported.
Davis had refused to issue the licenses to homosexual couples citing her Apostolic Christian beliefs despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling that allowed gay marriages across the country. In September, she was held in contempt of court and jailed for five days. A judge had ordered Davis not to interfere with the issuance of the marriage licenses, which began when Davis was imprisoned. However, a lawyer for one of Davis’ deputy clerk said that the Rowan County clerk confiscated and altered the newly issued marriage licenses, weakening their legality.
According to Beshear, his job is only to distribute the forms to county clerks, and neither he nor Wayne Onkst, Kentucky's commissioner of the Department for Libraries and Archives -- the state agency that provides marriage license forms to county clerks -- can "issue marriage licenses or compel Davis to issue marriage licenses," the AP reported.
Davis, 50, has also sued Beshear, arguing in a court filing that the governor's directive to Kentucky’s 120 county clerks instructing them to issue licenses to gay couples forced her to disobey the Supreme Court's order and spend jail time.