Judge Strikes Down Kentucky's Gay Marriage Ban
Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage became the latest to be struck down by a federal judge Tuesday.
Advocates are hailing the move as one more step in the right direction as the issue winds its way to the Supreme Court.
Kentucky’s gay marriage ban was found unconstitutional by the same U.S. District Judge that voided the portion of the law prohibiting the recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages last February. That ruling – and this latest decision – are on hold, however, pending the outcome of several gay marriage cases at the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Timothy Love, one of the plaintiffs challenging the ban, told reporters Tuesday’s news left him and his partner of more than three decades relieved and elated.
"You can't imagine after 34 years living with this second-class citizen thing hanging over our head, it's like a cloud being lifted off," Love said.
In handing down the ruling, Judge John Heyburn roundly rejected the only justification offered by lawyers for Gov. Steve Beshear, who had argued that heterosexual marriages contribute to the state’s economic stability by promoting a stable birth rate.
Instead, Heyburn found that the ban violates the constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.
Opponents of same-sex marriage were also quick to react to the news, with Kent Ostrander with Lexington’s Family Foundation, charging that Heyburn overstepped his authority.
"For all practical purposes, Judge Heyburn has declared martial law on marriage policy in Kentucky. It's just another indication that we're no longer a nation of laws, but a nation of judges," he said.
A spokesman for the governor says the state will appeal the ruling. The ban will go before the 6th District Court of Appeals – along with similar laws in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee – on August 6.