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Legislative Extras

House Considers Marriage License Compromise

A Louisville Democrat hopes he has a solution to the controversy over marriage license forms that has simmered since last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage.

Several county clerks in the commonwealth said their personal religious beliefs compelled them to oppose issuing licenses to same-sex couples. So last month the state Senate passed legislation that created two application forms: one for heterosexual brides and grooms and a second form for same-sex couples that listed the individuals as “first party” and “second party.”

Sen. Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville) says the two forms proposed in Senate Bill 5 are less efficient, more expensive, and invite problems, whereas one form would equalize the process and save money.

McGarvey devised a single marriage license application that lets couples check a box noting bride, groom, or spouse. The senator told the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that the compromise has wide support.

A statement from Gov. Matt Bevin urged lawmakers to approve the compromise:

“As the 2016 Session of the Kentucky General Assembly nears the end, I am requesting the House pass legislation to clarify uncertainties regarding Kentucky’s marriage license forms… I offer my support for a single form and look forward to signing this legislation and allowing our County Clerks to follow the law without being forced to violate their own conscience.”

The judiciary panel awarded unanimous passage to the updated legislation now listed as Senate Bill 216. The measure is on the fast-track docket for the full House, and if approved the bill will be returned to the Senate for final passage.

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