Kentucky governor signs off on single marriage license form


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's governor on Wednesday signed into law a bill creating one marriage license form for gay and straight couples, defusing an issue that erupted when a county clerk was jailed for refusing to issue licenses to same-sex couples.

Gov. Matt Bevin, a socially conservative Republican, said his signature on the bipartisan legislation brings "statutory finality to the marriage license dilemma."

The governor signed the measure without fanfare in his state Capitol office in Frankfort.

"Everyone benefits from this common-sense legislation," Bevin said in a statement. "There is no additional cost or work required by our county clerks. They are now able to fully follow the law without being forced to compromise their religious liberty."

The legislation takes effect this summer, the governor's office said.

The measure was a response to Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who spent five days in jail last year for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on her religious beliefs. Davis said she couldn't issue the licenses because they had her name on them.

Under the measure becoming law, marriage license applicants would have the option of checking "bride," ''groom" or "spouse" beside their name.

The form would not have the clerk's name on it.

The bill's final version passed the state's politically divided General Assembly without any opposition. It cleared the Democratic-led House on a 97-0 vote, followed by a 36-0 vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign, a gay-rights group, said Wednesday that the bill's success shows that when dealing with LGBT issues, "Kentuckians can come together to find solutions that are inclusive and treat everyone fairly and with dignity."

The Senate initially passed a starkly different version that proposed separate marriage license forms for gay and straight couples. Under that version, one form would have listed a bride and groom and the other would have listed "first party and second party."

Bevin, however, later endorsed the single-form version, which helped revive the issue after it languished for weeks.


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