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In 'Major Victory' For Kim Davis, Kentucky To Remove County Clerk Names from Marriage Licenses

( [email protected] ) Apr 18, 2016 11:58 AM EDT
In a move that has hailed as a victory for religious freedom, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed a bill Wednesday that removes the names and titles of county clerks from marriage licenses.
Jerry Johnson, president and chief executive officer of the National Religious Broadcasters (on left), presents the NBR President's Award to Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis at the Proclaim 16 Convention in Nashville, Tenn. Liberty Counsel chairman and founder Mat Staver stood with Davis at the podium; he served as her attorney during recent legal matters after she refused to sign marriage licenses for same-sex marriages. Photo Credit: The Gospel Herald

In a move that has hailed as a victory for religious freedom, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed a bill Wednesday that removes the names and titles of county clerks from marriage licenses.

"We now have a single form that accommodates all concerns," Bevin told Reuters in an emailed statement. "Everyone benefits from this common sense legislation. 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 bill gives legal "finality" to the religious accommodation that Rowan County clerk Kim Davis was looking for, notes the Daily Caller, and passed through both chambers of the Kentucky legislature unanimously.

Davis, an apostolic Christian, made headlines last year after she was imprisoned for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses with her name and title on them because of her beliefs.

At the time, Davis said "to issue a marriage license which conflicts with God's definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience," and urged on the state's then-Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to create a religious accommodation allowing her to drop her name and title from marriage certificates that her office issued.

Her request wasn't fulfilled, however, until Bevin issued an order in late December allowing Davis and other religious clerks to omit their names on marriage license forms. On Wednesday, Bevin announced that he has provided some "statutory finality to the marriage license dilemma" by signing off on a bill that removes names and titles from the state's marriage license forms altogether.

The move has been praised by Mat Staver, founder of the Liberty Counsel and the head of the legal team representing Davis.

"To provide a license is to provide approval and places a legal authority behind the signature. We celebrate this legislative victory," Staver said in a statement. "County clerks are now able to fully follow the law without being forced to compromise their religious liberty."

"The First Amendment guarantees Kim and every American the free exercise of religion, even when they are working for the government," Staver added. "County clerks should not be forced to license something that is prohibited by their religious convictions."

In February, Davis received the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) President's Award for her unwavering commitment to Christian values in spite of government and media opposition.

After receiving a standing ovation, Davis thanked those in attendance for their prayers.

"I know it's the prayers of all of God's people that strengthened me, and I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart," she said. "I just feel very undeserving of this. I stand as one, but we are many, and we can make a difference."

At the time, Staver stood with Davis at the podium in solidarity for the First Amendment and Free Speech.

"I'm thankful for Jesus Christ for transforming lives," he said. "What you see before you is a woman whose life was transformed by Jesus, and she will not be unfaithful to our Lord, and that's why she was there."

Staver said Davis was an encouragement to him and everyone about "how God can transform a life and use it incredibly beyond what you can imagine, ask or think."

Tags : Kim Davis, Kentucky, county clerk, gay marriage, Matt Bevin