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Ky. House Bill Creates Separate Marriage Statuses


While the Kentucky House weighs a Senate measure creating a pair of marriage license forms, one representative wants the legislature to split marriage itself into two categories.

The "Matrimonial Freedom Act," a weighty 454-page bill introduced this week by Campbell County Republican Joseph Fischer, maintains the 2015 Supreme Court decision overturning the commonwealth's same-sex marriage ban doesn't prevent the state from establishing a new institution of marriage. It does so, arguing "...the history of the Supreme Court of the United States is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States."

In response, the measure creates a status dubbed "matrimony," which would apply solely to opposite-sex couples, and confer all the rights and privileges of marriage. Same-sex couples lacking the new descriptor would not be eligible for those benefits, which include insurance, visitation, and parental rights.

Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman calls the bill a "ludicrous" end run around the Obergefell ruling and a legal nonstarter.

"If the Kentucky General Assembly were to pass Rep. Fischer's bill, there is no way the state would not be sued for disparate treatment under the law. There is no way that it can constitutionally stand," he says.

While Hartman dismisses the legislation as political grandstanding, the bill attests to deep linger divisions that persist in the statehouse. A Senate committee recently approved a religious freedom bill exempting businesses that do not wish to serve gay customers while the sponsor of statewide LGBT fairness legislation guaranteeing freedom from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations expects it will be another 2-3 years before it gets traction in committee and on the House floor. 

WUKY has reached out to Rep. Fischer's office, but has not yet received a response.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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