Clerk’s office follows new same-sex marriage laws with ‘no issues’

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By Taylor Riley

 On June 26, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the denial of marriage licenses and recognition to same-sex couples violates the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky filed a lawsuit last Thursday on behalf of four couples who were denied marriage licenses by the Rowan County Clerk in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage, according to USA Today. The Rowan County Clerk cited her religious beliefs as the reason for her decision.

In Oldham County, though, County Clerk Julie Barr says her personal ideals have not, and will not get in the way of the duties she must do as an elected official.

“There are elements of my job that I’ve found are hard to do, but I will abide by my oath,” Barr said. 

“We (as county clerks) stand up and take an oath and should abide by the Constitution,” Barr said. “The laws today fluctuate on a daily basis. We have to stick with whatever Kentucky law is in effect.”

On the day the law took place, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear sent a letter to all Kentucky county clerks, telling each to continue to do his or her job.

“As elected officials, each of us has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Kentucky,” Beshear’s letter said. “The Obergefell decision makes plain that the Constitution requires that Kentucky – and all states – must license and recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. Neither your oath nor the Supreme Court dictates what you must believe. But as elected officials, they do prescribe how we must act.”

The letter goes on to say: 

“Effective today, Kentucky will recognize as valid all same-sex marriages performed in other states and in Kentucky. In accordance with my instruction, all executive branch agencies are already working to make any operational changes that will be necessary to implement the Supreme Court decision.”

One of those changes was the issue of a gender-neutral marriage license form. The primary change on the form is that “bride” and “groom” signature lines have been changed to “first party” and “second party” to conform to the new equality laws.

Barr said that everyone in her office has complied with the change of law.

“I personally told my staff in our office, we have a job to do. Our personal beliefs should not get in the way of that,” Barr said. “We just do our jobs.”

Barr said she and her staff have received several phone calls from same-sex couples inquiring about receiving a marriage license. She said she doesn’t expect Oldham County to be affected by the laws to the degree that more-Metropolitan areas like Jefferson County would be, but she and her staff are ready for the changes.

Barr said she has issued one license to a same-sex couple since last week. 

For more information on obtaining a marriage license in Oldham County, go to oldhamcountyclerkky.com.



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