Kentucky may create 2 marriage licences to accommodate preferences of straight and gay couples

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis gestures as she refuses to issue marriage licences to a same-sex couple in Morehead, Kentucky on Sept. 1, 2015, in a still image from video provided by WLEX.Reuters

Lawmakers in Kentucky want to create two marriage licence forms to accommodate the preferences of gay and straight couples.

One form would indicate "bride" and "groom" while the other would say "first party" and "second party."

Bill sponsor Republican Sen. Stephen West said all couples, both gay and straight, could use either form, according to the Associated Press.

The forms also remove the name of the county clerk who issued the marriage licence and ask couples to indicate their gender for the benefit of historians and genealogists.

The bill, which passed a Kentucky Senate committee on Wednesday, came five months after Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licences to gay couples due to her religious beliefs despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that legalised same-sex marriage throughout the nation.

She did not attend the hearing but West said he consulted her about the bill.

Former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear changed the marriage licence form after the High Court ruling to remove references to "bride" or "groom" and replaced them with "first party" and "second party."

"The (county) clerks seem to want this. They have clients and customers who would prefer the other form. No one is precluded," West said.

But Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign, said it would have disparate treatment of gay couples.

"Separate has seldom been equal," he said.

Democratic state Sen. Morgan McGarvey offered an alternative by having one form with a box next to a person's name to check "bride," "groom" or "spouse."

"You can avoid confusion and avoid the potential for any disparate treatment of groups," he said.

Leslie County Clerk James Lewis, vice president of the Kentucky County Clerk's Association, said he has no problem with McGarvey's idea. West said he would consider amending his bill.

Gov. Matt Bevin removed the names of county clerks from marriage licences last December.