Sunday, August 2, 2015
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DOWNWARD SLIDE—Braxton Martin, 7, photo above, sailed down a giant slide Monday night at the Montgomery County Fair. He is the son of Josh and Crystal Martin. The fair continues through Saturday. Photo by Tom Marshall.
Bill proposed to remove issuance of marriage licenses at county level
Representative David Hale, R-Wellington (74th District), said he will sponsor legislation for consideration during the 2016 Regular Session titled the “Pastor Protection Act,” which he says attempts to address a two-fold issue in Kentucky following the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage.

“I’ve been approached by numerous ministers in my district, and county clerks across the commonwealth urging us in the General Assembly to address their concerns,” said Rep. Hale. “As a pastor myself, I understand the religious arguments on same-sex marriage while at the same time the right of those who want to receive a marriage license in Kentucky. It is my hope this bill serves as a middle ground on both sides.”

Under Rep. Hale’s bill, designed as Bill Request 154 for the 2016 session, it would exclude ministers, churches and other religious organizations from any liability if they have objections or concerns based on their faith to performing any same-sex marriages in Kentucky. It also moves the responsibility of issuing marriage licenses and certificates from local county clerks to the state registrar of vital statistics in Frankfort, and directs a portion of the filing fee be directed to an agency fund with the Department of Libraries and Archives to be used to preserve and retain public records.

“While a marriage license is the way government can document and keep records in Kentucky, it is not what defines the sanctity of marriage going back long before the formation of our commonwealth,” Rep. Hale added. “My bill, if passed, would keep those traditional beliefs in place for those opposed to same-sex marriage, including our churches and county clerks, and puts the responsibility of issuing licenses where it belongs on the state level.”

Hale told the Advocate the bill hasn’t been prefiled yet, but will be before the start of the 2016 session in January.

“We are getting everything together on it. We have it drafted already. We have to go through the steps of it being prefiled.”

The idea behind the legislation is that it is worded, Hale said, not just to cover clergymen, but county clerks as well.

“I felt this needed to be done for clergymen, but not just for them. ... Churches, organizations too. We felt there could be the possibility of lawsuits down the road.

“It isn’t just for pastors, for the institutions, the churches themselves,” Hale added.

Montgomery County Clerk Chris Comment said he did not want to comment on the proposed legislation at this time.

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