Judge Blasts KY’s Gay Marriage Ban; Court Orders IN Couple’s Marriage Recognized
By Mike Perleberg
(Louisville, Ky.) – Two key rulings on gay marriage in Indiana and Kentucky were issued Tuesday out of federal courts.
In Kentucky, a U.S. District Court judge said that the state’s gay marriage ban violates the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment. Senior Judge John G. Heyburn II also noted sincere religious beliefs do not override constitutional rights.
The state’s lawyers arguing for the same-sex marriage ban had contended that allowing such unions would harm the state’s birth rate. In his ruling, Heyburn called that argument “illogical and even bewildering.”
“Even assuming the state has a legitimate interest in promoting procreation, the Court fails to see, and Defendant never explains, how the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage has any effect whatsoever on procreation among heterosexual spouses. Excluding same-sex couples from marriage does not change the number of heterosexual couples who choose to get married, the number who choose to have children, or the number of children they have,” Heyburn wrote.
Unlike a federal judge’s decision in Indiana last week that allowed – for a couple days – same-sex couples to flock to courthouses to receive their marriage licenses and then the altar, Heyburn issued with his decision a stay on the ruling pending an outcome of four other marriage cases before the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
For that reason, one of the plaintiffs who brought the case to court had some mixed emotions Tuesday.
“I was hoping that whenever this ruling came down that we would see lines at the courthouse and couples getting married, just like it happened in Indiana and other states. We’re a little disappointed, but we understand it’s part of the legal process,” Timothy Love said.
Democrat Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s spokesman said the state will appeal the ruling.
In Indiana’s ongoing challenge to the state’s gay marriage ban, the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago issued an emergency ruling on behalf of a lesbian couple. Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney, who is suffering from stage four ovarian cancer, were legally married in Massachusetts last year.
The appeals court ruled Tuesday that the state should recognize the out-of-state marriage so Sandler’s ability to collect death benefits wouldn’t be hindered.
READ ABOUT ONE OF DEARBORN COUNTY’S FIRST GAY WEDDINGS HERE.
The same court is still considering at least three lawsuits challenging Indiana’s marriage law.
Pro-gay marriage group Hoosiers United for Marriage said it was grateful for the appeals court’s decision.
“We hope the court will look at this marriage, as well as the hundreds of couples legally married last week across the state, and understand that to deny the freedom to marry is to inhibit equal protection of loving Hoosier families under Indiana law. It cannot stand, and we will fight both the legal battle and to make sure Hoosiers understand why marriage matters and why these couples deserve protection,” said Hoosiers United for Marriage Coordinator Kyle Megrath.
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Since then, in 18 cases every federal court has declared state bans on same-sex marriage and recognition unconstitutional.