GOP nominee for Kentucky Governor, Matt Bevin, called on Governor Steve Beshear to reconcile the conflict between the legalization of same-sex marriage and the religious rights of all Kentucky citizens, in particular, but not limited to, county clerks.
"When the Supreme Court changed Kentucky's definition of marriage, it also changed the job description of our county clerks and other officials currently involved in the state sanctioning of marriage. It is understood that Kentucky must uphold the new law and find a way to process and recognize same-sex marriage. However, that does not mean we must do so at the expense of the constitutionally afforded religious liberties of other Kentucky citizens. It is not a matter of one or the other, but rather of both. Equal protection under the law means exactly that," said Matt Bevin.
"It is incumbent upon the Governor and the Kentucky legislature to represent all of the Commonwealth's citizens, and uphold their individual liberties. To the extent those liberties come into conflict, such as in the case here, we should look for the least restrictive means to providing necessary government services.
"As Governor, I would work proactively with the legislature to fulfill legal obligations, while protecting religious freedoms.
"It should be noted, that many of Kentucky's legal statutes were affected. There is understandable confusion as to which statutes are still valid. Legislators from both sides of the aisle are calling for executive action or a quick, special session to clarify this confusion. I would be willing to work with both parties to find a solution. Governor Beshear, sadly, has indicated thus far that he is willing to work with neither.
"Ultimately, I believe the government should be out of the marriage business altogether. We can comply with the law while protecting our citizens' rights to freedom of religion simply by separating the religious covenant of marriage from the legal, contractual relationship established by marriage as recognized by the state. The two are separate and they should be treated as such. Two consenting adults should not need to ask for permission from the government to enter into a contractual relationship - a license should not be needed. As with other contracts, the government's role should be limited to recording, interpreting, or enforcing such contracts in times of dispute.
"In the meantime, however, if we intend to continue with a licensing process, we can make marriage licenses, or a marriage contract template, available as we do with other standard legal forms. Forms can be available for pick-up, or downloadable, as you might download a power of attorney form. The form would then be presented to those with authority to approve or solemnize a marriage contract. That duly-executed marriage contract could then be filed and recorded at the county clerk's office just like a mortgage, a lien, a deed, etc.
"Such an approach, would allow compliance with the expanded definition of marriage, while still accommodating the religious beliefs of those who serve our state.
"I call upon Governor Beshear and Attorney General Conway to defend the 1st Amendment rights of all Kentuckians, including our county clerks, and to stop hiding behind their lame duck status. Each is still being paid to do the job he swore to perform and the taxpayers of Kentucky deserve no less."