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Marriage License Bill Creates Twin Forms

Josh James

After weeks of postponements, Senate Bill 5 - a measure aimed at incorporating Gov. Matt Bevin's  2015 executive order stripping county clerks names from marriage licenses into state law - finally went before committee. The compromise gained preliminary approval, but one particular provision left LGBT groups a little queasy.

The bill splits Kentucky's marriage license applications into two separate forms, one specifying Bride and Groom and the other listing First Party and Second Party - a provision bill sponsor Stephen West said reflects the preference of constituents of the county clerks he consulted. And while gay couples could select either form when applying, Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman worries about the message it sends.

"Having the two forms can just even create the impression of being disparate treatment, and that's the type of thing that we really do want to avoid," he tells reporters. "And there's an easy way to do that."

Detecting echoes of "separate but equal," both Hartman and Louisville Sen. Morgan McGarvey recommended combining the applications and allowing applicants to check boxes labeled bride, groom, spouse, or party. West says he's not in principle opposed to the change, but "we didn't really feel it in any way infringed on the rights of LGBT people to have that form because they were still free to use whichever one they wanted."

SB5 would require clerks to sign their names at the bottom of forms for processing purposes, but it strikes their names from the top license section. Applicants would also need to list their gender.

Asked if the alteration would satisfy clerks with religious reservations, West says, "I'm not saying there's not going to be one person out there that might have a problem with it. There are so many nuances to this someone may have a problem, but we attempted to reach a consensus."

The measure now moves to the full Senate as a separate bill is being drafted in the House.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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