Kentucky same-sex marriage ban tossed by federal judge

Bloomberg News
July 1, 2014
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Kentucky’s gay-marriage ban was thrown out Tuesday by a federal judge who derided the government’s arguments as “bewildering,” making the state the 28th in the United States where same-sex weddings are legal.

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn in Louisville, who in February ruled the state must recognize gay couples who legally wed elsewhere, struck down Kentucky’s in-state ban, delaying the effect of his ruling to let the state appeal. Four federal appellate courts are now weighing the issue, which may wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court as early as this year.

Kentucky, in defending its prohibition, claimed that heterosexual marriages contribute to a stable birthrate and to the state’s long-term economic growth. The judge called those contentions “at best illogical and even bewildering.”

“These arguments are not those of serious people,” said Heyburn, a 1992 appointee of Republican President George H.W. Bush. “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.”

Pending challenges

Challenges to similar decisions are pending before U.S. appeals courts in Chicago, Denver, Cincinnati and Richmond, Va. One or more of those appellate rulings could be accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court for review during its next term, which starts in October.

Same-sex marriage proponents have now won at least 18 consecutive court rulings legalizing gay marriage outright or compelling states to recognize marriages performed elsewhere. Decisions voiding in-state bans in Utah, Oklahoma, Michigan, Virginia, Idaho, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Indiana and now Kentucky are on hold pending the resolution of appeals.

In other states, gay marriage has been legalized through popular vote or legislation.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, a Democrat, said after February’s ruling that the state would defend its same-sex marriage prohibitions, even as fellow Democrat Jack Conway, the attorney general, declined to do so.

“We will be appealing the decision” to the appeals court in Cincinnati, Beshear said in a statement Tuesday. The state has hired outside counsel to defend the prohibition.

Legally Indefensible

Conway, in a separate statement, said he stood by his earlier conclusion that Kentucky’s ban is legally indefensible.

“For me, defending this issue meant defending discrimination, and that I will not do,” he said in a statement. “Additionally, discriminatory policies hamper our state’s ability to attract business, create jobs and develop a modern workforce.”

Heyburn, citing his prior ruling and those in other state cases, concluded the Kentucky law violated U.S. constitutional guarantees of equal protection.

The federal appeals court in Cincinnati is already scheduled to hear arguments in August over a March ruling by a Detroit judge striking down Michigan’s ban. Challenges to the Indiana and Wisconsin bans are before an appeals court in Chicago. A federal appeals court in Richmond heard argument over Virginia’s ban in May.

A U.S. appeals court in Denver last week upheld a Salt Lake City judge’s decision to strike down Utah’s ban, and an Indianapolis judge invalidated Indiana’s prohibition. The Denver-based appeals court has yet to rule in a case striking down Oklahoma’s ban.

Gay marriage is incontestably legal in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.


  • Facts
    "While everyone has the right to their opinion(s), no one has the right to facts." That's a problem. The bible is the true word of god. Is that a fact? Some people say that it is a fact because the bible says it is. Others would say this is circular reasoning so it is not a fact. The first group demands that everyone believe this fact.
  • doctrine
    The Roman Catholic Church also has the doctrine of transubstantiation, in which the bread and wine of communion actually become the blood and body of Jesus. If that were literally true (which, of course, it isn't), when people partake of communion, how is that not cannibalism? It took the church over 400 years to admit that Galileo was right, that the earth revolved around the sun. Then there was the Inquisition. And on and on. imho means "in my humble opinion." While everyone has the right to their opinion(s), no one has the right to facts. Sometimes facts are downright inconvenient.
  • Catholic Church
    I assume the questions were meant for me, not Daniel. "What would you say to the 1.6 billion faithful Catholics in the world about their beliefs regarding the sacrament of marriage?" Indiana has a population of around 6.5 million. I will assume that the faithful Catholic population is much less than 1.6 billion. But how is forcing non-Catholic believing citizens of Indiana less rights than the those who believe in Catholicism the right thing to do in a country that has freedom of religion. If we want to remove that freedom and Catholicism is chosen as the religion of our country then I would see no problem with it. How does allowing same sex marriages change the life of Catholic believers in any way? There are lots of people who eat meat on Fridays. Since that is against the Catholic church beliefs should it be outlawed?
    • beliefs
      the "quotes" are from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is essentially what practicing Catholics profess and believe. What would you say to the 1.6 billion faithful Catholics in the world about their beliefs regarding the sacrament of marriage? Why should the beliefs of practicing Catholics be any less valid then your beliefs? How would you propose to solve this situation which would enable you to satisfy your needs / beliefs and not force Catholics to have their deeply held beliefs desecrated?
    • not purely human
      Many, many quotes. And the source of all the quotes is . . .?
    • quotes
      And the source of all the quotes is . . .?
    • icky
      “That's icky and I don't like gay people.” Is there something *unicky* about heterosex? You may know more gay people than you think. Ever hear of the guy who authorized the King James Version of the Bible, James II of England? He was gay. How about Alan Turing, the guy who was instrumental in the development of the electronic computer and artificial intelligence and very instrumental in the Allies prevailing in World War II, also of England? He also was gay. The list goes on and on. imho, marriage is highly overrated, same- or opposite-sex. Why gays and lesbians want to put themselves through hell the way heteros do is beyond me.
    • To Daniel
      Daniel, it is great that you believe that. We all have freedom of religion and have the freedom to believe in any religion we choose. But we also have freedom from being forced to believe in a religion also. Right now, there are citizens that are denied the right to be married. This can have real world consequences for them. We need to make sure that all citizens have the same rights no matter the religion that they choose to believe.
    • OMG- that was the worst legal argument ever!
      The Kentucky argument for banning gay marriages has to be the lamest ever! I would have much more respect if people just came out and said, "That's icky and I don't like gay people". Not that THAT's a legal defense either... but at least it's honest. Or even better, "Yeah, I got nothing... but I have to pander to the right wing fools who elected me."
      • Marriage is not a purely human institution ...
        THE SACRAMENT OF MATRIMONY 1601 "The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament."84 I. MARRIAGE IN GOD'S PLAN 1602 Sacred Scripture begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God and concludes with a vision of "the wedding-feast of the Lamb."85 Scripture speaks throughout of marriage and its "mystery," its institution and the meaning God has given it, its origin and its end, its various realizations throughout the history of salvation, the difficulties arising from sin and its renewal "in the Lord" in the New Covenant of Christ and the Church.86 Marriage in the order of creation 1603 "The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws. . . . God himself is the author of marriage."87 The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes. These differences should not cause us to forget its common and permanent characteristics. Although the dignity of this institution is not transparent everywhere with the same clarity,88 some sense of the greatness of the matrimonial union exists in all cultures. "The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life."89
        • Johnny
          There are no logical, intelligent arguments supporting banning gay marriages. Rather just religious and/or personal arguments clowns all over this backwards country try and disguise as credible legal arguments.
        • Great News
          That is great news for Kentucky! I can't wait to hear that news for our state. Our citizens that choose to marry someone of the same sex deserve the same rights as those that choose to marry someone of the opposite sex have.
        • No Surprise
          By recognizing the female couple that one half of is dying of cancer, it opens the doors wide for all the other marriages that happened in that brief window in Indiana to be recognized here as well. It would be discrimination otherwise and the judges know it. Again, can ANYONE clearly explain how same-sex marriage harms any other marriage or does damage to another couple? I'll be busy building an intricate sailing vessel inside of a bottle while I wait for my answer. I expect to get it done before I hear one.

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