In roughly one month, after Governor-elect Matt Bevin is sworn in, Kentucky clerks who oppose same-sex marriage will no longer have to violate their conscience in issuing marriage licenses.
"One thing I will take care of right away is we will remove the names of the county clerks from the marriage form," Bevin told reporters in the Capitol rotunda on Friday.
Rather than go through the state legislature to accomplish this, as Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear suggested, Bevin will instead issue an executive order.
It was unclear what effect his order would have on the case of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who was jailed for five days after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, making Kentucky a focal point in the debate over gay marriage in the United States. Davis, 50, met with Bevin the day she was released from jail.
Davis took steps to remove her name and office from the forms after she was released. She also had repeatedly urged current governor Steve Beshear, a Democrat, to remove clerk names from the form or provide another type of relief so she would not violate her Apostolic Christian beliefs.
Beshear has said he had no authority to relieve county clerks of their statutory duties by executive order and the issue could be addressed by the state legislature, which reconvenes in January.
One of Davis’ attorneys welcomed the news that Bevin would be “protecting the rights of conscience.”
"Gov. Elect Bevin's impending executive order is a welcome relief for Kim Davis and should be for everyone who cherishes religious freedom," Mat Staver said in a statement.