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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 4 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 27
Kentucky marriage ban falls
Section One
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Kentucky marriage ban falls

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A federal court judge ruled on July 1 that Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional, and the state must allow Gay and Lesbian couples to marry.

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II said that Kentucky's voter-approved 2004 constitutional amendment and a 1998 statute violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because they deny same-sex couples estate taxes, leave from work under the Family and Medical Leave Act, family insurance coverage, and the ability to adopt children as a couple.

'Perhaps most importantly,' he added, the Kentucky law denies same-sex couples the 'intangible and emotional benefits of civil marriage.'

'In America, even sincere and long-held religious beliefs do not trump the constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted,' Heyburn II added.

There is 'no conceivable legitimate purpose' for Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage, Heyburn said, and he dismissed the argument advanced by Kentucky Governor Steve Bashear that opposite-sex marriages lead to procreation and therefore a stable birthrate and economic stability for the state.

'These arguments are not those of serious people,' Heyburn wrote in his decision.

Heyburn said that Gays and Lesbians are a 'disadvantaged class' and laws treating them differently require heightened scrutiny, just as those relating to women as a class would. That in turn required the state to show that the Kentucky's Gay marriage ban is 'substantially related to an important governmental object.'

Beshear's attorneys had shown 'no rational relation between the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the commonwealth's asserted interest in promoting naturally procreative marriages,' the judge concluded.

Heyburn stayed the ruling until the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decides marriage cases from Kentucky and three other states. Oral arguments are scheduled for August 6.

The present case before Heyburn was brought by two couples, Timothy Love and Lawrence Ysunza, who have lived together for 34 years, and Maurice Blanchard and Dominique James, who have been together for ten years.

Heyburn said that Love and Ysunza had suffered harm because Love's heart surgery had to be delayed last summer in order to prepare power of attorney documents allowing Ysunza the right to make emergency medical decisions for him.

Blanchard and James were harmed, the judge said, because they were unable to adopt children as a couple, which they would have been able to do had they been an opposite-sex couple.

When Blanchard and James applied for a marriage license on January 23, 2013 and were denied by the county clerk, they refused to leave the clerk's office and were eventually cited for trespassing. A jury later convicted them but only fined them a penny.

In a separate case, Heyburn ruled in February that Kentucky must recognize lawful same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. Since that decision, eight federal judges and one federal appeals court have struck down state laws banning same-sex marriage.

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