State Senator Bill Carrico’s bill to allow local clerks to opt out of issuing marriage licenses to gay couples cleared a Senate committee Jan. 27 and now heads to the Senate floor.
Senate Bill 40 passed by an 8-7 margin Jan. 27 in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, meaning it will now be sent before the full General Assembly. Carrico, the senator from Galax who is sponsoring the legislation, also referred to as the “Kim Davis Bill,” has stated the bill is in response to the arrest of the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples after the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage in 2015. Davis was jailed for five days in September for her refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
Carrico’s bill includes language that would call for the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue marriage licenses in cases when a local clerk objects to issuing a marriage license due to personal, ethical, moral or religious grounds.
Even if the bill clears Virginia’s General Assembly, it most likely will be vetoed by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who reportedly sent a representative to the Jan. 27 committee meeting to voice his disapproval, a rare occurrence for a governor to take on pending legislation.
Carroll County Clerk of Circuit Court Gerald Goad said his office will take no stance on the pending bill and will continue to uphold all current laws.
“I took the oath of office on December 16th, 2015 to always support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia in which I carry very close to my heart and execute in my daily duties and responsibilities as an elected Clerk of the Circuit Court for Carroll,” Goad said in a statement. “As many know me as an individual, I am very open and honest with my faith as a proud Christian as my wife Cleo held my family’s Bible dating back to the 1850s and was passed onto me while I placed my left hand on it taking the official Oath of Office in December. Our family’s Bible is on display in my office at the Carroll County Governmental Center. Also, I am a proud member of Gideons International and a lay speaker for many churches in the Twin County region.”
However, Goad said it is his responsibility as Clerk of the Circuit Court to serve all citizens and to enforce all laws mandated by the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Constitution of the United States regardless of his personal religious beliefs.
“My position as an elected official is to serve all citizens,” Goad said. “At this time, I nor any Deputy Clerk in my office has any opinion towards the future outcome of SB 40 as we are working diligently to enforce all current laws regarding the issuance of marriage licenses based on the oaths taken by me and all Deputy Clerks.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN