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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 21 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 08
Couples ask judge to expand ruling on Kentucky marriages
Section One
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Couples ask judge to expand ruling on Kentucky marriages

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Two Kentucky couples have asked a federal judge to expand on his recent ruling that the state must recognize Gay and Lesbian marriages performed elsewhere. The couples filed suit on February 14 asking Federal District Judge John G. Heyburn II to strike down the Kentucky law barring same-sex marriage.

Timothy Love and Lawrence Ysunza, who have been together for 33 years, and Maurice Blanchard and Dominique James, who have been together for a decade, want Judge Heyburn to order Kentucky to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

'To have that acknowledged, we would be elated. Obviously, there's a lot to it,' James told The Associated Press. 'We just want to be treated equal to our heterosexual brothers and sisters. If we can get that, we will be satisfied.'

Heyburn had ruled on February 12 that Kentucky could not refuse recognition of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. In his ruling, he indicated he would also be inclined to throw out the law barring same-sex couples from marrying in the state.

In his February 12 ruling, Heyburn wrote that while the state government could define marriage and attach benefits to it, it cannot 'impose a traditional or faith-based limitation' without 'a sufficient justification for it.'

'Assigning a religious or traditional rationale for a law does not make it constitutional when that law discriminates against a class of people without other reasons,' Heyburn continued.

Consequently, he found that Kentucky law treats 'gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them,' in respect to recognition of out-of-state marriages.

The same arguments could apply to the right of Gay and Lesbian couples to marry in Kentucky. In their complaint, Love, Ysunza, Blanchard, and James say 'the commonwealth's law deprives them of numerous legal protections that are available to opposite-sex couples' because they are not allowed to marry in the state.

Blanchard said the plaintiffs in the February 12 case were 'coming at it from the outside,' seeking to force the state to recognize a marriage held elsewhere.

'Now, Dominique and myself are coming at it from the inside. We have a right to be recognized as well. We want that to happen.' Blanchard said. 'It would be inspiring to other same sex couples who are continuously berated and discriminated against.'

Attorney Shannon Fauver, who represents the two couples, said Heyburn's prior decision served as the groundwork for the filing on Friday.

'I expect some type of opinion within the next 30 days,' Fauver said. 'We've already laid the framework.'

Kentucky Attorney General's office spokesperson Allison Martin said her office is reviewing the motion and won't comment on whether the state will oppose it.

The Attorney General has also not decided whether to appeal Heyburn's ruling that Kentucky must recognize out-of-state marriages, and will not decide until the judge holds hearings on how to implement his prior ruling. No date has yet been set for that hearing.

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