Timeline: History-Making Day For Gay Rights In Kentucky
Friday's historic Supreme Court decision touched off a variety of actions and reactions across Kentucky.
County clerks across Kentucky will now look to the governor to decide how and when to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Jordan Kelch, spokesman for the Jefferson County Clerk in Louisville, said the office "can't just go rogue and start issuing marriage licenses." He says the changes will be made as soon as they are directed.
A spokesman for Gov. Steve Beshear declined this week to describe the governor's plan for implementing the court's decision. Beshear is expected to soon release a statement about how the state intends to make the necessary changes.
Chris Hartman, director of Louisville's Fairness Campaign, said he hopes the governor's message will be strong and decisive, and that he'll direct the clerks to start issuing marriage licenses right away.
Tony Schmuckie can't stop giggling.
He exclaimed "oh my God, oh my God, oh my God." He was working from his Louisville home when a friend texted him the news. He says Goosebumps rose all over his body. He has been with his partner, Dan McQueen, for 13 years. He found the one person he would want to marry, he said, but could barely believe he'd one day be able to.
He said, "I've been waiting my entire life to see this. It's a huge, huge change for the future."
Now he and McQueen are planning a wedding for next summer.
Some county clerks expect same-sex couples to begin streaming into their offices for marriage licenses, particularly in Louisville and Lexington, the state's biggest cities.
But the clerks will wait for word from the governor before they proceed.
Kelch, spokesman for the Jefferson County Clerk in Louisville said they hope not to have to turn people away, but "our hands are tied."
The Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives distributes the marriage license templates to county clerks. The department has researched alternatives to accommodate same-sex couples, said spokeswoman Cathy Lindsey. But she declined to say how quickly the marriage license forms could be updated and disseminated.
She said an estimate would be speculative and the office "wouldn't want to pin people's hopes and dreams on that."
It's the greatest day of Timothy Love's life. He says he was overwhelmed with emotion when the U.S. Supreme Court ruling came down Friday morning, one that will finally allow him to marry his partner, Lawrence Ysunza, in their home state of Kentucky.
The couple passed on repeated opportunities to marry in other states, because "when we came home it would mean nothing."
The two are set to be married in October, the week that they met 35 years ago. Love says they have waited so long, they can certainly wait a few more months.
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway says the ruling makes it clear that "the government cannot pick and choose when it comes to issuing marriage licenses and the benefits they confer." He says he did his duty as attorney general in defending Kentucky's constitutional amendment against gay marriage, but declined to participate in the appeal because he agreed with a lower court ruling that the amendment was unconstitutional. He says it is time for Kentucky to move forward "because the good-paying jobs are going to states that are inclusive."
A spokesman for The Family Foundation of Kentucky, an organization that advocated for the state's ban on gay marriage, responded to the ruling by saying the Supreme Court "has gone rogue from the Constitution." According to Martin Cothran, the decision "has nothing to do with interpreting the Constitution; this has everything to do with an elite caste of judges who think they have the power to rewrite it."
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has told the state's county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples following a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Beshear sent a letter to all 120 county clerks telling them the Department of Libraries and Archives will send them a gender neutral form today along with instructions on how to use it. He told the clerks to consult with their county attorneys with specific questions, but said he knows they will respect the rule of law.
Beshear, a Democrat, made national news last year when he overruled the state's Democratic attorney general and hired outside attorneys to defend the state's same sex marriage ban. In the letter he told the clerks that while their oath and the Supreme Court cannot tell them what to believe, it does tell them how to act.
Beshear said in a statement that the state pursued its appeal to get a "final determination of what the law in this country would be" and that the ruling Friday "finally provides that clarity."
Matt Bevin, who is the Republican nominee in the Kentucky governor's race, said he disagrees with the Supreme Court decision. He says "activist judges" are ignoring both the will of the people and the Constitutional principle of states' rights.
He called the ruling "regrettable" and criticized the Democratic nominee in the governor's race, Attorney General Jack Conway, for not pursuing the state's appeal to the Supreme Court.
Conway has said that he did not pursue the appeal because he felt the state's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.
Albert Mohler, who is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the Supreme Court's ruling not only allows same-sex couples to marry, but redefines the meaning of marriage. He called the high court's 5-4 decision "a central assault upon marriage as the conjugal union of a man and a woman" and a threat to religious liberty.
"Assurances to the contrary, the majority in this decision has placed every religious institution in legal jeopardy if that institution intends to uphold its theological convictions limiting marriage to the union of a man and a woman," Mohler said. "This threat is extended to every religious citizen or congregation that would uphold the convictions held by believers for millennia."
Among the politicians across Kentucky who rushed to comment on the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling legalizing gay marriage was Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who is gay.
"This is an historic day for our country, and it's a day that means a lot to me personally," he said in statement. "Today's Supreme Court decision affirms our shared values of equality, freedom and dignity. That is the American way; a way we can all celebrate."
Gray been mayor since 2011 and was re-elected to another four year term in November. He is scheduled to speak Friday night at a banquet sponsored by Lexington Fairness, a gay rights group.
Marriage licenses have been issued to same-sex couples in Kentucky after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on gay marriage.
Timothy Love was at the head of the line Friday in Louisville to obtain a marriage license with his partner of 35 years, Larry Ysunza. Cheers went up from family and friends when they received their marriage license. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer handed them a bottle of champagne.
Love was the lead plaintiff in the case that led a federal judge to strike down the state's ban on gay marriage — a precursor to Friday's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court declaring that same-sex couples have a right to marry in all 50 states
Same sex couples should not have to wait on a software company to get a marriage license in Kentucky.
Some clerks are having trouble printing the marriage licenses because they use a computer program that has not been updated yet with the new forms. The company that makes the computer program said it would be Tuesday at the latest before they could get the system updated.
But the Kentucky County Clerk's Association is telling clerks that shouldn't be a problem. Simply print out the old form and scratch out the words "bride" and "groom" and replace them with "first party" and "second party."
Bill May, executive director of the Kentucky County Clerk's Association, says new clerks may not know they can do that.
Warren County Clerk Lynette Yates is offering to print out a PDF version of the marriage license for anyone who wants to get married immediately. But they will have to come back next week to get the official document.
About 200 jubilant gay rights supporters rallied in downtown Louisville on Friday evening. Participants chanted "Love Wins" before the event was cut short by a thunderstorm that dumped heavy rain.
"Today the Supreme Court of the United States confirmed what we all knew, that our love is equal, our love is worthy and our love is legal," said Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who is gay, spoke to a boisterous crowd at the Fairness Awards at Keeneland on Friday night, calling the ruling "another milestone in the long arch of freedom's history."
"The marriage bans have been repealed and now all committed couples can speak those two simple words: 'I do,'" Gray said. "Tonight is a celebration of marriage. Yes, of equality and of fairness. It is a celebration of our time," he said.