Casey Co. clerk says Beshear told him to issue same-sex marriage licenses or resign

Casey County Clerk Casey Davis met with Gov. Steve Beshear in Frankfort Thursday, July 9, 2015 to discuss same-sex marriage licenses. | Photo: Mark Barber
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Casey Davis, a Kentucky clerk of court who wants the state to issue marriage licenses online so he doesn't have to, says Gov. Steve Beshear told him to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples or resign.

Davis, the Casey County clerk, met with Governor Steve Beshear on Thursday in an effort to convince the governor to allow the state to issue marriage licenses. Davis also wanted to make a plea for the governor to hold a special session to address issues surrounding same-sex marriage licenses.

After meeting with the governor, Davis told a group of reporters that Beshear essentially gave him an ultimatum. Davis said he would go to jail before he resigned. He also said he was holding his position, and he will not issue any marriage licenses in Casey County.

Beshear did not discuss Thursday's meeting with Casey Davis, but issued the following statement:

“This morning, I advised Mr. Davis that I respect his right to his own personal beliefs regarding same-sex marriages. However, when he was elected, he took a constitutional oath to uphold the United States Constitution. According to the United States Supreme Court, the Constitution now requires that governmental officials in Kentucky and elsewhere must recognize same-sex marriages as valid and allow them to take place. One of Mr. Davis’ duties as county court clerk is to issue marriage licenses, and the Supreme Court now says that the United States Constitution requires those marriage licenses to be issued regardless of gender. Mr. Davis’ own county attorney has advised him that his oath requires him to do so.

While there are two or three county court clerks still refusing to perform their duties, the rest of the county court clerks are complying with the law regardless of their personal beliefs. The courts and the voters will deal appropriately with the rest.

I will not be calling any special session on this topic and costing the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars doing so. Any proposal about the process of issuing marriage licenses that meets the standards of the Supreme Court ruling should be carefully thought out and could be considered in the regular session in 2016.”

Davis was joined by at least six other county clerks who were in Frankfort to support him. The meeting comes a day after 57 county clerks signed a petition urging the governor to call a special session over issuing marriage licenses after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages in all 50 states.

Davis has said same-sex marriage violates his religious beliefs, and he stopped issuing marriage licenses following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that legalized gay marriage. Davis, along with the Rowan County clerk, have been in the news for taking a stand against same-sex marriages. The ACLU filed a lawsuit against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis.

A spokesman for Beshear has previously said the governor would have to evaluate Davis' proposal for the state to make online forms available. However, the spokesman said Beshear said he is standing by the statement he made on Tuesday, which reads in part, "There's no need to spend $60,000 a day of taxpayers' dollars calling a special session of the General Assembly."

Casey Davis told WKYT he wanted everyone to be treated fairly and has the opportunity to live how they choose. That's why he said he is asking Beshear to make marriage licenses available on state websites. Davis says he knows how to make that happen as early as today.

"I don't think $60,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of what we will lose if we don't take a stand for what we believe in today," Casey Davis said.