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Kentucky Marriage Licenses No Longer Need County Clerks’ Names: Governor

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin issued an executive order Tuesday that will no longer require a county clerk's name to appear on marriage license forms.

The change comes after the national firestorm ignited earlier this year when Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis defied a judge's order to issue such licenses to same-sex couples — claiming doing so would violate her religious beliefs as an Apostolic Christian.

Related: Kim Davis' Lawyers: No Need to Change Marriage Licenses After Controversy

Davis, who said she was being forced to choose between "my conscience or my freedom," spent five days in jail in September after failing to perform her official duties. Her deputy clerks were tasked with issuing the licenses.

What Really Happened When Pope Francis Met Kim Davis? 1:57

In a news release, Bevin said he has ordered new marriage license forms to be created to ensure that "sincerely held religious beliefs of all Kentuckians are honored."

Bevin, a Republican, assumed office earlier this month after his predecessor, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, was ineligible for re-election because of term limits.

Davis' attorneys had sued Beshear and another state official for allegedly violating her religious freedom.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, which represented couples who were initially denied marriage licenses by Davis, has argued that previously altered documents that didn't feature her name or Rowan County on them could be invalid.

Now, the organization worries that the governor's sudden move may only make matters more confusing.

"Governor Bevin's executive action has added to the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over marriage licensing in Kentucky. The requirement that the county clerk’s name appear on marriage licenses is prescribed by Kentucky law and is not subject to unilateral change by the governor — conceded by the previous administration in court filings," ACLU legal director William Sharp said in a statement.

"Government officials, from the highest to the lowest, have a duty and responsibility to impartially administer the laws that exist," he added, "not the laws as they wish them to be."