E-mails Reveal Marriage License Debate Within Kentucky County Clerk System

The investigative news site MuckRock has been hard at work obtaining Kim Davis-related e-mails from the subject herself using the Kentucky Open Records Act. After some initial pushback from Davis, she eventually sent over 482 e-mails that give some insight on how county clerks from all over Kentucky have handled the lead-up to and the fallout from the Supreme Court's marriage equality decision. These documents include minutes from Kentucky County Clerks Association meetings, results from a marriage license form survey, and general reactions to Davis' refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

All in all, the e-mails reveal clerks who were wrestling with changes in marriage license form nomenclature, chafing against intrusion by the state, and occasionally swearing that they would resist marrying same-sex couples. The collection is also am interesting insight into what it takes to obtain documents from not only a government agency, but from the very subject in question.

A sample from MuckRock:

“Do not put yourselves in a lawsuit,” read the KCCA meeting minutes from July. Davis attended the meeting, according to the document.

While Kentucky Governor Steven Beshear directed clerks to use a gender-neutral form, many clerks called for distinct means of recording heterosexual and same-sex unions.

“Many clerks want to have two forms for the marriage license,” the July minutes read. “Some people have complained that they do not want Party One nomenclature instead of Bride or Groom. We feel we need to continue with two applications for the present. Also there was discussion on the addition to Gender on the Marriage License. It would help identify the person in research in future years.”

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