Conway, Bevin expect to tackle same-sex marriage concerns in 2016 legislature

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- Though Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is declining calls for a special session, the candidates who hope to succeed him said Friday they expect to tackle concerns about same sex marriage and county clerks in the 2016 General Assembly.

"As Governor, I would work proactively with the legislature to fulfill legal obligations, while protecting religious freedoms," Bevin said, noting he was disappointed Beshear is not addressing the issue, now.

Democrat Jack Conway said Friday he is open to changing Kentucky law to accommodate county clerks upset about same sex marriage licenses.

"As your next Governor, I am willing to work toward any legislative solution in a regular session that upholds the Supreme Court decision and allows county clerks some flexibility so we can all move forward," Conway said in statement released to WHAS11 by his campaign.

While Conway acknowledged Beshear "is not going to spend taxpayer dollars on a special session," Bevin called on Beshear to reconcile the conflict between the legalization of same-sex marriage and the religious rights of all Kentucky citizens, in particular, but not limited to, county clerks.

Republican Matt Bevin said when the Supreme Court changed Kentucky's definition of marriage, it also changed the job description of county clerks.

"It is understood that Kentucky must uphold the new law and find a way to process and recognize same-sex marriage," Bevin said in a statement. "However, that does not mean we must do so at the expense of the constitutionally afforded religious liberties of other Kentucky citizens."

Conway said the Supreme Court decision "made clear that the government cannot pick and choose when it comes to issuing marriage licenses and the benefits they confer."

"This issue was never about county clerks," Conway said. "It's about equal protection under the law and creating an inclusive society to create the jobs of the future."

Yet Bevin stressed that equal protection under the law also applies to religious liberties.

"It is incumbent upon the Governor and the Kentucky legislature to represent all of the Commonwealth's citizens," Bevin said, "and uphold their individual liberties. To the extent those liberties come into conflict, such as in the case here, we should look for the least restrictive means to providing necessary government services."

A federal judge will consider Monday whether to issue an injunction against one of the Kentucky county clerks who refuses to grant marriage licenses after the Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage.


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