Bill Information Edit

Senate Bill 5

Title: AN ACT relating to marriage licenses.

Sponsors: Sen. Stephen West, Sen. Jimmy Higdon, Sen. Mike Wilson, Sen. Embry Jr., Sen. Ralph Alvarado, Sen. Chris Girdler, Sen. Damon Thayer, Sen. Whitney Westerfield, Sen. Danny Carroll, Sen. Albert Robinson, Sen. Max Wise

Date Introduced: 6 January 2016

Current Status: In House Judiciary Committee

What Does It Do? Edit

The purpose of this bill is to revise the marriage license form. In this revision, it would remove the requirement for the signature of the county or deputy clerk for the county. Instead, the name and title of the clerk will suffice.


Establishes 2 alternative marriage license forms for each county clerk’s office, which provide for the following information (Sec. 1):

--1 form provides for applicants’ names under “bride” and “groom”; and

--1 form provides for applicants’ names under “first party” and “second party.”

--Specifies that marriage license applicants are authorized to select either form

--Requires a marriage license to record the gender of each applicant

--Repeals the requirement for a marriage license to provide the name of the county clerk or deputy county clerk who issue the license

Process Edit

Jan 06, 2016 - introduced in Senate

Jan 08, 2016 - to State & Local Government (S)

Feb 10, 2016 - reported favorably, 1st reading, to Calendar with Committee Substitute (1)

Feb 11, 2016 - 2nd reading, to Rules; floor amendment (1) filed to Committee Substitute

Feb 16, 2016 - posted for passage in the Regular Orders of the Day for Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Feb 17, 2016 - passed over and retained in the Orders of the Day

Feb 18, 2016 - 3rd reading; floor amendment (1) defeated; passed 30-8 with Committee Substitute (1)

Feb 19, 2016 - received in House

Feb 22, 2016 - to Judiciary (H)

Major Changes During Process Edit

Sub-Committee Substitute (SCS): to require the Department of Libraries and Archives to issue two forms of the marriage license application to the county clerk offices. The SCS will also require the department to issue a marriage license form that allows for additional information to be added from the parties, and to require the department to revise references to the issuance of a marriage license or certificate by a county clerk. Finally, this SCS will remove the requirement to send the information to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Senate Floor Amendment (SFA): to amend the SCS to delete the section regarding the two (2) marriage license forms, and to replace the one form to allow the parties to check "bride", "groom", or "spouse" on the form.

Key Media Coverage Edit

'Kentucky Creates Two ‘Separate, But Equal’ Marriage License Forms To Protect Traditional Marriage, Disengage From Kim Davis' - Inquisitr [1]

(Excerpt) The Kentucky state Senate approved the creation of two different marriage license forms Thursday to differentiate between gay and straight couples in a move designed to respect traditional marriage. [2]

'The Powers That Be: KY Marriage License Bill passes Senate' - WHAS11 [3]

(Excerpt) Senator Dan Seum, 38th District Republican, voted for the bill that is now headed for consideration in the House. But this plan had republican detractors who are unhappy that this bill forces couples to decide between two certificates. LGBT advocates also decried SB5 for the same reason arguing that separate certificates were not equal.

Major Actors Edit


'Kentucky Senate Passes Bill Accommodating Kim Davis and Religious Freedom' - Liberty Counsel Connect [4]

(Excerpt) “This is another great victory for Kim Davis and for religious liberty. As expected, the ACLU is still not happy and calls the bill ‘discrimination’ and ‘a dangerous slippery slope precedent…catering to one specific religious belief.’ The ACLU wanted to crush the conscience of Kim Davis. They were not successful and they found that Kim Davis will not be bullied,” - Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.


'Spotlight On: Kentucky's Marriage Bills'- Protect Thy Neighbor' [5]

(Excerpt)"...[SB5] would allow government officials to refuse to solemnize marriages. [SB5] aimed at permitting government officials to deny marriage services for LGBT couples."

'Senate Passes Marriage License Bill, Would Create Gay/Straight Forms' - ACLU [6]

(Excerpt)“Separate forms for gay and lesbian Kentuckians constitute unequal treatment under the law. Pure and simple, this bill is motivated by the desire to accommodate discrimination against same-sex couples." - Michael Aldridge, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky

Politics Edit


Following the landmark Oberhefell v. Hodges case in the Supreme Court requiring states to allow homosexual marriage, Kentucky was put under the spotlight. Rowan County clerk, Kim Davis, refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, effectively ignoring the highest court in the country, due to her deeply held religious. This landed Ms. Davis in jail with some calling for her prosecution, citing what they believed to be illegal discrimination, while others called for her release, citing the issue of religious freedom. Following this debacle, there were calls for the Commonwealth to draft legislation relating to public servants and religious rights. Some felt that as a public servant it is the duty of your office to ignore personal religious beliefs while conducting professional business, while others felt that the individual deserved to conduct the business of her position as the clerk's religious identity allows. SB 5 allows county clerks a way to effectively decide if they want to sign a marriage license or not. This garnered plenty of support from conservative religious groups while many liberal civil liberties groups opposed the bill.


Allows county clerks to conduct business of the office while still observing their religion beliefs.

Allows homosexual couples to sign marriage licenses that do not restrict their options to only "Bride" and "Groom"


Creates what can be seen as a discriminatory "separate but equal" marriage license.

County Clerk business is not applied equally to all groups due to this "separate but equal" clause.

Creates a precedence that will allow the state to create laws that create separate institutions and practices for dealing with the rights of different groups.