FRANKFORT, Ky. — The new governor of Kentucky has issued an executive order that accommodates county clerk Kim Davis’ request that her name be removed from the “marriage” licenses that her office is issuing to homosexuals.
The current license “creates a substantial burden on the freedom of religion of some county clerks and employees of their offices because the current form bears the name of the issuing county clerk,” Gov. Matt Bevin said in a statement on Wednesday. “And some county clerks and their employees sincerely believe that the presence of their name on the form implies their personal endorsement of, and participation in, same-sex marriage, which conflicts with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
The governor ordered the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives to release new licenses that do not cite the county or the name of the county clerk. The documents also include a line for a signature for the “issuing official,” which may be any willing person in the office.
As previously reported, Davis had requested with the start of the new year that then-Gov. Steve Beshear allow for her name to be removed from any marriage licenses as the U.S. Supreme Court was set to consider the issue of same-sex “marriage.” After the high court opinion was issued in June, she was among those who refused to issue licenses—at least not with her name on them. Davis, who attends an Apostolic Pentecostal assembly, said that she would do so if her name was removed from the documents.
Her refusal soon went to court, and in September, U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered that Davis issue the licenses despite her religious identity. As she continued to refuse to issue the licenses, Bunning ordered that she be placed behind bars until she was willing to comply. In the meantime, the judge arranged for a deputy clerk to sign the licences in her absence.
She was released from the Carter County Jail five days later after her attorneys filed an appeal of the contempt order, and also because Bunning was satisfied that her deputy clerks were providing the licenses instead.
Upon her release, Davis reiterated that all she wanted was an accommodation.
“Since January of this year, I have asked Gov. Beshear, the Kentucky legislature–and more recently, Judge Bunning, for one simple thing: an accommodation for my religious beliefs regarding marriage that would allow me to serve the citizens of Rowan County without violating my conscience,” she said.
“My name or official title on the marriage certificate points to the same person—me, Kim Davis. To affix my name or authoritative title on a certificate that authorizes marriage that conflicts with God’s definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman violates my deeply held religious convictions and conscience,” Davis continued. “For me, this would be an act of disobedience to my God.”
She outlined that all she had been requesting is for her name to be removed from the licenses.
“While there are many accommodations available, the very simple accommodation I have proposed is to remove my name and my title as the clerk of Rowan County completely off the marriage license,” Davis stated. “These licenses could be issued under another authority including perhaps the Commonwealth of Kentucky or Gov. Beshear himself.”
However, some have said that an accommodation is a compromise and is not acceptable for one who professes Christ.
“We’re still allowing the evil to continue, and it totally nullifies the interposition of the lesser magistrate in abating the just judgment of God,” Matt Trewhella, pastor of Mercy Seat Christian Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and author of “The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate,” told Christian News Network.
“It’s extremely important for people to understand that the interposition of the lesser magistrate abates the just judgment of God,” he said, “but with the path they’re taking in Kentucky, it will not.”
Others state that Bevin doesn’t have a right to issue the executive order, and opine that his decree may result in a lawsuit.