June 29, 2015
LEXINGTON, KY— "If it was okay for Jack Conway to do it, it should be okay for county clerks," said a spokesman for the group that pushed for Kentucky traditional marriage law that was struck down by Friday's U. S. Supreme Court decision. On Friday Gov. Steve Beshear told county clerks across the state that they were required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of Kentucky's Constitution. The Family Foundation said today that county clerks whose conscience would be violated by following the Governor's order should consider their options.
"There are county clerks out there who have a religious objection to same-sex marriage," said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst with the Family Foundation. "They should be able to do what our own attorney general did last year when he refused to defend Kentucky's marriage law on conscience grounds. County clerks have consciences too."
In fact, said Cothran, county clerks are on more solid ground than Attorney General Conway because they would not have to violate their oath of office to refuse to issue such licenses. "While Jack Conway violated his oath of office in not defending Kentucky voters, county clerks would actually be honoring theirs. County clerks take an oath to both the federal and state constitutions. The U.S. Constitution nowhere says anything about same-sex marriage and the Kentucky Constitution expressly prohibits it. In refusing to issue licenses, they would actually be complying with the constitutions to which they swore their oaths."
"If the Governor is so concerned about public officials doing their duty, why didn't he write the same kind of letter to Jack Conway that he wrote to county clerks?" asked Cothran.
Cothran also pointed out that there is 25-day period following Supreme Court decisions in which a request for rehearing can be filed, a technical fact that could also affect what county clerks can do.