Ky House, Senate leaders pushing for legislative fix to same sex - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ky House, Senate leaders pushing for legislative fix to same sex marriage standoff

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Key lawmakers are pushing for a legislative fix to the standoff in Rowan County, Kentucky. Key lawmakers are pushing for a legislative fix to the standoff in Rowan County, Kentucky.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – In a statement released Wednesday, Kerry Harvey, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky said, “It's time for the clerk and county to follow the law.”

Rowan Co. Clerk Kim Davis is headed back to court tomorrow over her refusal to issue marriage licenses because of religious objections to same sex marriage.

Frankfort and Morehead are 90 miles apart, but the same sex marriage dispute involving the Rowan Co. Clerk is spilling over to the state Capitol and key lawmakers are pushing for a legislative fix to the standoff. 

On Tuesday, Davis defied a Supreme Court order and again refused to issue marriage licenses.

She's due to appear on Thursday at a contempt hearing in federal court in Ashland.

“It is something that she is willing to sacrifice her freedom for -- that deeply held religious belief -- and you have to respect her for that,” said Kentucky Senate Pres. Robert Stivers (R-Manchester).

“I think she has a duty, as do all clerks, until we get a fix to go ahead and obey the law, obviously. But we can fix it,” said House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg).

While they disagree about her methods, both Democratic Stumbo and Republican Stivers say they'll push for a fix that will take the granting of marriage licenses out of the hands of county clerks.

“It's an easy fix to satisfy the clerk's concerns, and I thought that was a legitimate reason to call a special session, and said so. I still believe that,” said Stumbo.

In fact both leaders support a special session to address the marriage issue. But Gov. Steve Beshear has refused, citing the cost.

“We can do it in a special session quickly. This whole thing has been thrown into turmoil as to truly what is a marriage,” said Stivers.

Stivers and Stumbo also agree the issue is bigger than one or two county clerks. There are a number of laws that must be revised in light of the legalization of same sex marriage.

“The statutes are full of language changes that need to be brought into conformity with the ruling,” said Stumbo.

Ironically, without a special session, any legislative fix will likely come too late to help Kim Davis.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Stivers filed an amicus brief requesting that U.S. District Judge David Bunning “temper or withhold” his ruling in the case “until the General Assembly has an opportunity to establish new frameworks under Kentucky law,”

Stivers’ complete statement released by his office is below:

“I am requesting Judge Bunning delay, withhold or temper his ruling in this case until the General Assembly has an opportunity to establish new frameworks under Kentucky law. The Supreme Court ruling has completely obliterated the definition of marriage and the process for obtaining a marriage license in Kentucky. The General Assembly will be compelled to amend many sections of Kentucky law, not just for the issuance of marriage licenses, to comply with the recent Supreme Court decision.”

The release from Stivers’ office goes on to say:

“Stivers’ brief places pertinent facts before U.S. District Judge David Bunning regarding the current state of Kentucky law and the legislative process. It emphasizes that under the Kentucky Constitution only one individual, the Governor, is vested with the power to call the General Assembly into an extraordinary session to act on time sensitive issues, just like this one.  It also points out that absent a special session the Governor may issue an executive order which could be codified by the General Assembly in January 2016.”

The complete statement from U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey is below:

"The federal district court has ordered that Rowan County issue licenses to all couples, whether of the same sex or opposite sexes, who are entitled under Kentucky law and the U.S. Constitution to get married. We have grave concerns about the reported failure to comply with the court's order. Government officials are free to disagree with the law, but not disobey it. The County Clerk has presented her position through the federal court system, all of the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. It is time for the Clerk and the County to follow the law."

Previous: ACLU files contempt motion after Rowan Co. clerk defies judge's order; federal hearing scheduled 

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