Tuesday a Republican-appointed federal judge ruled that Kentucky’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex couples from the freedom to marry is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II was appointed by President George H. W. Bush in 1992, on the recommendation of current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The ruling reads:
“Sometimes, by upholding equal rights for a few, courts necessarily must require others to forebear some prior conduct or restrain some personal instinct. Here, that would not seem to be the case. Assuring equal protection for same-sex couples does not diminish the freedom of others to any degree. Thus, same-sex couples’ right to marry seems to be a uniquely “free” constitutional right. Hopefully, even those opposed to or uncertain about same-sex marriage will see it that way in the future.
“The Court’s holding today is consistent with Bourke, although it requires different relief. The ability to marry in one’s state is arguably much more meaningful, to those on both sides of the debate, than the recognition of a marriage performed in another jurisdiction. But it is for that very reason that the Court is all the more confident in its ruling today.”
Previously, Judge Heyburn struck down the portion of the marriage ban in Kentucky that denies respect to same-sex couples who legally married in other states. Shortly after that ruling (in Love v. Beshear) in February 2014, two unmarried couples intervened in the case, which was retitled Love v. Beshear.
“Today a Republican-appointed federal judge in Kentucky held – as have more than 20 other judges and as did the U.S. Supreme Court last year – that discriminatory state marriage bans are unconstitutional,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry. “It is wrong for the government to deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry the person they love; a freedom that is part of every American’s liberty and pursuit of happiness. Today’s ruling in Kentucky underscores that America – all of America – is ready for the freedom to marry, and the Supreme Court should bring the country to national resolution as soon as possible.”
Tuesday’s ruling follows a February ruling from the same judge, which stated that Kentucky must respect the legal marriages of same-sex couples performed outside of Kentucky. That case will be heard by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on August 6, 2014.
Since 2013’s landmark Supreme Court decision striking down the core of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), 23 consecutive rulings have struck down state marriage bans as unconstitutional.
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