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Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Kentucky, the bluegrass state.

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1972 to now:
The path towards legalizing same- sex marriage
in Kentucky via the federal and state courts.

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wedding rings imageOverview:

  • 1972: Two women attempted to marry, were refused a marriage license, and filed a law suit seeking the right to marry. It failed.

  • 1998: The Legislature passed a defense of marriage act, banning same-sex marriages in state & recognition of out of state marriages.

  • 2004: Voters passed an amendment to the state Constitution to ban same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships.

  • 2013-JUL: A gay couple filed a lawsuit Bourke vs. Beshear in federal District Court seeking recognition of their out-of-state marriage which had taken place in Niagara Falls, ON, Canada about a decade earlier. They were later joined by other married, same-sex plaintiffs.

  • 2014-FEB: Judge Heyburn issued a memorandum opinion, and later a ruling requiring Kentucky to recognize of out-of-state same-sex marriages. Ruling is stayed. Two unmarried couples ask to join the lawsuit seeking permission to marry in Kentucky for themselves and other same-sex couples. They are accepted and the case was renamed Love v. Beshear.

  • 2014-JUN: The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals scheduled a hearing for the District Court case.

  • 2014-JUL: District Court Judge John Heyburn issued a ruling in Love v. Beshear, affirming the right of same-sex couples to marry in Kentucky. Ruling is stayed pending appeal.

  • 2014-AUG: The 6th U.S. Court of Appeals heard the Love v. Beshear, along with similar cases from three other states.

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  • star 2014-NOV-06. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found same-sex marriage bans in 4 contiguous states to be constitutional! This came as a surprise to many observers because dozens of federal courts had previously ruled various states' bans to be unconstitutional since the high court's ruling in Windsor v. United States during mid-2013.

    U.S. District courts had declared SSM bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee to be unconstitutional because they violate the due process and/or equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. All four cases were appealed to a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who declared the bans constitutional by a 2:1 vote.

    This ruling was expected to be resolved in the future by an appeal to the full 6th Circuit Court or to the U.S. Supreme Court. Although the high court had refused to hear appeals from the 4th, 7th and 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals one month previously, they were considered much more likely to accept an appeal from the 6th Circuit Court. That was because the U.S. Supreme Court was then faced with a conflict among the Circuit Courts: three had recently ruled in favor of marriage equality and the 6th has now ruled against. As long as there is agreement among the lower courts, the high court is often reluctant to interfere. But if there is a conflict, the Justices often feel that they have an obligation to intervene to resolve the conflict.

    Later in November, Kentucky and the remaining three states affected by the 6th circuit court ruling appealed their case(s) to the U.S. Supreme Court. As exoected, the High Court accepted the appeal during 2015-JAN.

On 2015-JUN-26, the court issued its ruling that, in theory, legalized same-sex marriages across the entire United States. Two months later, almost same-sex couples could routinely obtain marriage licenses throughout the 50 states, the District of Columbia and four out of five territories. Exceptions were:

  • Some counties in a few states on the mainland where clerks were refusing to issue marriage licenses on personal religious grounds. In doing so, they were violating:
    • Their oath of office which requires them to obey both their state and the federal Constitution.

    • The Ethic of Reciprocity, commonly called the Golden Rule, which is found in Christianity, all other major world religions, and many philosophical systems.

  • The territory of American Samoa. Most inhabitants there are considered American residents, not American citizens. Thus, rulings by the High Court are not necessarily binding there.

  • Some Native American jurisdictions where tribes have powers over cultural matters like marriage.

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Topics covered in this section concerning recognition in Kentucky of both out-of-state and in-state same-sex marriages:

1972 to 2014-NOV:

2014-NOV to now: Impact of the ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals:

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How you may have arrived here:

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > SSM sub-menu > here

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Copyright © 2014 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2014-FEB-16
Latest update: 2016-AUG-08
Author: B.A. Robinson
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