Kim Davis gets Matt Bevin’s ‘absolute’ backing
Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin said during a national conference call Tuesday he fully supports Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ right to refuse gay couples seeking marriage licenses.
“I absolutely support her willingness to stand on her First Amendment rights,” he said. “Without any question I support her.”
The strong defense of Davis’ actions underscores how the GOP nominee hopes to make the fight over gay marriage a centerpiece of the 2015 governor’s race, which polling shows is a tight race between him and Democratic nominee Jack Conway.
As the state’s attorney general, Conway refused to appeal the initial federal ruling against the state’s same-sex marriage ban last year. Conway campaign spokesman Daniel Kemp said the Supreme Court has spoken on the issue of same-sex marriage and that Conway “believes it’s time to move forward because the good-paying jobs are going to states with policies of inclusivity.”
The Supreme Court ruled in June that gay couples have a right to marry, and on Monday the court denied Davis’ request for a stay that would have allowed her to continue denying licenses to gay couples.
At her office Tuesday, Davis said she was acting “under God’s authority” when she once again denied a marriage license to a gay couple. Attorneys filed a motion to find Davis in contempt of court for refusing to issue marriage licenses.
Bevin, who said he believes in traditional marriage and also has deeply held religious beliefs, said county clerks who disagree with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage are having their rights violated.
He also accused Conway of failing to stand by the religious liberties of county clerks who oppose the Supreme Court ruling.
“There are stark, stark contrasts between myself and Jack Conway,” Bevin said. “His hypocrisy on this issue to say his conscience, not his constitutional right, prevented him from doing his job but he has come out and been on the record as stating these clerks need to do their job or quit.”
Asked if there are any laws that he would not abide by if elected, Bevin said he has “many strongly held religious beliefs” but that if elected governor he would uphold the law for everyone.
“As governor, it is my responsibility to ensure that we comply with the law whether I agree with that law or not,” he said.
Kemp said Conway is willing to seek a legislative solution to the issues, but “in a regular session that upholds the Supreme Court decision and allows county clerks some flexibility.”
The Bevin campaign reiterated a plan that he says would allow Kentucky to comply with the law while protecting state clerks’ liberties. In it, Bevin said “government should be out of the marriage business altogether” and he called on Gov. Steve Beshear to issue an executive order that would put the marriage license application process online and make them available to be picked up in clerks’ offices.
Beshear said in a statement this month that Bevin’s suggestion would violate state law.
By Phillip M. Bailey