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Kentucky Clerks Who Refuse To Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses Draw Ire

Gov. Steve Beshear on Thursday said he respected the clerks' religious beliefs, but they swore an oath to uphold the law — which now includes issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Posted on July 9, 2015, at 9:16 p.m. ET

Timothy D. Easley / AP

Kentucky's governor on Thursday called on all county clerks to honor their oath to the Constitution after multiple same-sex couples were denied marriage licenses despite the recent Supreme Court decision.

Gov. Steve Beshear met with Casey County Clerk Casey Davis on Thursday after he refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

"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," Beshear said in a statement.

Beshear told the clerk if he could not uphold his oath, he should resign, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. In response, Davis said he was willing to go to jail if necessary.

"If that's what it takes to express freedom of religion, I'm willing to do this," Davis told the Herald-Leader.

According to the governor, Davis is one of two or three Kentucky clerks refusing to issue the licenses. Beshear, who himself supported a statewide gay marriage ban before the Supreme Court's decision, said either the courts or the voters would deal with any official not upholding the law.

Davis had suggested an online marriage license system that would not require clerks to be involved. State lawmakers also asked the governor to either call a special session to address the issue or sign an executive order to temporarily accommodate the dissenting clerks.

But Beshear said that since the Supreme Court has already spoken, he would do neither — though legislators could return to the issue in their next regularly scheduled session.

"I will not be calling any special session on this topic and costing the taxpayers hundreds of thousands doing so," he said.

View this video on YouTube

In Kentucky's Rowan County, another clerk has also drawn public ire for her refusal to issue marriage licenses to couples — same-sex or otherwise.

Clerk Kim Davis' refusal to issue the licenses affected at least four couples, who then turned to the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU last week filed a class-action lawsuit against the clerk and the county.

David Ermold and his partner, David Moore, applied for a marriage license on Monday and captured the experience on video. The couple, who have been together for 17 years, said they should be able to apply for a license in their home county.

In the video, an employee tells them the county is not currently issuing marriage licenses and directs them to visit a neighboring county.

The couple asks to speak to Davis herself, who eventually comes out and asks the camera to be turned off as a police officer stands by.