Just a few months after Kim Davis spent five days in jail for refusing to authorize same-sex marriage certificates, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has announced that the state will no longer require county clerks' signatures to be present on valid marriage licenses.
According to a report from the LA Times, Bevin cited the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act in making the decision, which will grant clerks with religious objections to same-sex marriage the right to refrain from signing such licenses.
"It's a great Christmas present for Kim Davis and for others like her," attorney Mat Staver said, the Times reported. "This executive order is a clear, simple accommodation on behalf of Kim Davis and all Kentucky clerks."
"What former Gov. Beshear could have done but refused to do, Gov. Bevin did with this executive order. We are pleased that Gov. Bevin kept his campaign promise to accommodate the religious rights of Kim Davis. We will notify the courts of the executive order and this order proves our point that a reasonable accommodation should have been done to avoid Kim having to spend time in jail," Staver added.
As reported by the Gospel Herald, Davis was jailed for six days after she defied a judge's order to issue the marriage licenses to same-sex couples. At the time, she explained that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on June 26 that legalized gay marriage nationwide conflicts with the vows she made when she became a born-again Christian.
"I promised to love Him with all my heart, mind and soul because I wanted to make heaven my home," Davis told the judge. "God's moral law conflicts with my job duties. You can't be separated from something that's in your heart and in your soul."
Bevin, who recently replaced Democrat Steve Beshear as the state's governor, said in a statement that the new law will "ensure that the sincerely held religious beliefs of all Kentuckians are honored."
"Executive Order 2015-048 directs the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives to issue a revised marriage license form to the offices of all Kentucky County Clerks. The name of the County Clerk is no longer required to appear on the form," Bevin's office said
Bevin also charged that the existing marriage license "creates a substantial burden on the freedom of religion of some county clerks and employees of their offices because the current form bears the name of the issuing county clerk, and some county clerks and their employees sincerely believe that the presence of their name on the form implies their personal endorsement of, and participation in, same-sex marriage, which conflicts with their sincerely held religious beliefs."
The executive order reflects Bevin's promise to uphold religious liberty prior to his election, as he stated that removing the county clerk's' names from state marriage licenses would be "one thing [that] I will take care of right away."
"The argument that that cannot be done is baloney. We've already changed those forms three times for crying out loud," he said in November.
Meanwhile, speaking to the AP on Tuesday, Davis praised the decision and reflected on her role in the same-sex marriage debate.
"How ironic that God would use a person like me, who failed so miserably at marriage in the world, to defend it now," she said. "The Lord picks the unlikely source to convey the message."
"No one would ever have remembered a county clerk that just said ... 'Even though I don't agree with it, it's OK. I'll do it,'" Davis added. "If I could be remembered for one thing, it's that I was not afraid to not compromise myself."