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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Courts - "Kentucky ban on gay marriages from other states struck down by federal judge"

Here is Andrew Wolfson's story, posted at 12:55 PM in the Louisville Courier Journal. Some quotes:

A federal judge Wednesday struck down Kentucky’s ban on recognizing valid same-sex marriages performed in other states, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II joined nine other federal and state courts in invalidating such bans.

Ruling in a suit brought by four gay and lesbian couples, Heyburn said that while “religious beliefs ... are vital to the fabric of society ... assigning a religious or traditional rationale for a law does not make it constitutional when that law discriminates against a class of people without other reasons.”

Heyburn said “it is clear that Kentucky’s laws treat gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them.” * * *

Heyburn struck down the portion of Kentucky’s 2004 constitutional amendment that said “only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Kentucky.”

Heyburn did not rule that Kentucky must allow gay marriages to be performed in the state. * * *

Heyburn also rejected the arguments of the Family Foundation of Kentucky — that recognizing same-sex marriages would undermine the fundamental role of marriage in ensuring procreation.

Heyburn said there is no requirement that opposite-sex couples agree to procreate to get married.

He also said “no one has offered any evidence that recognizing same-sex marriages will harm opposite-sex marriages.” * * *

The suit was filed on behalf of Gregory Bourke and Michael Deleon of Louisville, who were married in Ontario, Canada, in 2004; Jimmy Meade and Luther Barlowe, who live in Bardstown and were lawfully married in Davenport, Iowa, in 2009; Randell Johnson and Paul Campion, who live in Louisville and were married in Riverside, Calif., in 2008; and Kimberly Franklin and Tamera Boyd, who live in Cropper and were married in Stratford, Conn., in 2010. The complaint also named their children.

BuzzFeed has the 23-page opinion. The opinion begins:
Four same-sex couples validly married outside Kentucky have challenged the constitutionality of Kentucky’s constitutional and statutory provisions that exclude them from the state recognition and benefits of marriage available to similarly situated opposite-sex couples.

While Kentucky unquestionably has the power to regulate the recognition of civil marriages, those regulations must comply with the Constitution of the United States. This court’s role is not to impose its own political or policy judgments on the Commonwealth or its people. Nor is it to question the importance and dignity of the institution of marriage as many see it. Rather, it is to discuss the benefits and privileges that Kentucky attaches to marital relationships and to determine whether it does so lawfully under our federal constitution.

From a constitutional perspective, the question here is whether Kentucky can justifiably deny same-sex spouses the recognition and attendant benefits it currently awards opposite-sex spouses. For those not trained in legal discourse, the questions may be less logical and more emotional. They concern issues of faith, beliefs, and traditions. Our Constitution was designed both to protect religious beliefs and prevent unlawful government discrimination based upon them. The Court will address all of these issues.

In the end, the Court concludes that Kentucky’s denial of recognition for valid same-sex marriages violates the United States Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law, even under the most deferential standard of review. Accordingly, Kentucky’s statutes and constitutional amendment that mandate this denial are unconstitutional.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 12, 2014 01:39 PM
Posted to Courts in general