The Kentucky Senate unanimously approved a single marriage license form, a move in stark contrast to a divisive vote on the same issue several weeks ago. The Senate had previously approved Senate Bill 5, a measure introduced by Senator Stephen West (R-Paris) that would have created separate marriage license forms for gay and straight couples in Kentucky. Senator Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville) originally proposed an amendment to Senate Bill 5, which would have created a single form, but was rejected after heated debate 23-15.

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee reconsidered Senator McGarvey's proposal in the form of a committee substitute for Senate Bill 216. During brief testimony, Senator McGarvey shared a letter of support for his single marriage license form from Republican Governor Matt Bevin:

"My staff has been working collaboratively with Rep. Denham, sponsor of House Bill 258, and Sen. Steve West, sponsor of Senate Bill 5, along with Sen. Morgan McGarvey and the County Clerks Association to craft legislation to address all concerns," Governor Bevin said in a written statement to House Judiciary Chairman Darryl Owens. "I offer my support for a single form and look forward to signing this legislation..."

The House Judiciary Committee and full House voted unanimously to adopt Senator McGarvey's single marriage license form, which had also garnered the support of the County Clerks Association, Fairness Campaign, ACLU-KY, and Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis.

The Senate unanimously approved the new language in concurrence and in a final floor vote of 36-0. Senator Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) called Senate Bill 216 the "marriage license fix," and Senator West made a point of voting in favor of the new bill, citing the disagreement and backlash over his original proposal:

"The main problem the first time was two forms, and that issue has been taken care of down in the House. I took a lot of flack on this bill...I hope by voting 'aye,' maybe all that will go away...It's amazing what we can accomplish when we don't care who gets the credit," Senator West said after acknowledging the work of Senator McGarvey, the County Clerks Association, and others.

"I'm very proud to have helped create a marriage license form that serves all Kentuckians equally," said Sen. McGarvey. "I'm especially grateful for the support of Governor Bevin and Sen. West, and I look forward to finding more ways we can work collaboratively for our commonwealth.

"This is a great day for our commonwealth," shared Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman. "By working in a bi-partisan way with all affected communities, we were able to find a common sense solution that treats everyone with dignity and fairness."

Senate Bill 216 now goes to Governor Bevin, who is expected to sign the measure into law.

Also headed to Governor Bevin's desk, House Bill 40 (expungement legislation) that passed concurrence in the House on an 84-13 vote.