Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Kentucky.
Part 8: 2014-JUL:
Family Research Council, National Organization
for Marriage, Kentucky Family Foundation,
and Governor Beshear respond to the
in Timothy Love, et al. v. Steve Beshear
The Family Research Council responded:
The Family Research Council (FRC) took a dim view of Judge Heyburn's ruling in Love v. Beshear. The FRC is a fundamentalist Christian group that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) classifies as a hate group because of their frequent misrepresentation of topics related to homosexual orientation. 5 [The SPLC is the main national organization monitoring hate organizations in the U.S.]
Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the FRC said:
"Judge Heyburn's contention that 'serious people' don't support the definition of marriage that has existed for millennia, demonstrates a measure of contempt -- for tens of millions of citizens -- wholly unacceptable from someone on the bench.
"On the contrary, it is those like Judge Heyburn, who can conceive of no 'rational basis' for distinguishing the type of relationship which reproduces the human race from all other types of relationship, who cannot be considered 'serious people.' 6
It is unclear why Sprigg believes that he is free to denigrate one segment of the population whereas Judge Heyburn is not. Common decency would seem to require that everyone avoid denigrating others. Denigration would seem to violate the Golden Rule.
Sprigg seems to imply that same-sex couples cannot produce children. He appears to ignore the many families headed by two lesbian and/or bisexual women who use artificial insemination to conceive, as well as same-sex couples who conceive children via surrogacy, and same-sex couples who adopt children.
"Judge Heyburn scoffed at the notion that 'traditional marriages contribute to a stable birth rate.' Yet a correlation between those factors is clear. Recent research showed that the bottom six U.S. states in birth rate had all redefined marriage, while none of the top nine states in birth rate had done so. 6
Sprigg does note a correlation between bans on same-sex marriages and stable birth rate. But a correlation does not necessarily imply a cause and effect relationship. If one were to compare the states with the lowest birth rate with those states with the highest birth rate one would probably find major differences in educational attainment, income, age at first marriage, divorce rate, religiosity and probably other factors. Besides, some commentators are concerned about the high birth rate globally, and the strain that additional population would place on the environment.
"Judge Heyburn explicitly ignored precedents from both the U.S. Supreme Court regarding state definitions of marriage and the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit regarding 'sexual orientation.'6
Sprigg's first comment appears to be a reference to court decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court and by other courts that it is up to the individual states to decide who can marry and which couples are to be excluded from marriage. For example, some states allow second cousins to marry but deny marriage to first cousins because of the higher rate of child birth defects that occur when spouses are too closely related. Other states allow first cousins to marry. States also define the minimum age that engaged couples must have reached before they can marry.
Many religious and social conservatives have assumed that because it is up to each state to define marriage, that states can define it in any way that they wish. Many conservatives have assumed that In the event that a state excludes same-sex couples and thereby -- according to many recent court rulings -- violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, that this state decision overrules the federal Constitution. That belief is shared by very few constitutional experts and even fewer -- if any -- courts.
Peter Sprigg's reference to the "U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit regarding 'sexual orientation'," appears to refer to a ruling that they made back in 1996 -- at a time when national support for same-sex marriage was only about 27% compared to 55% to 59% in 2014. That ruling was eight years before the first state allowed marriages by same-sex couples.
The Washington Blade commented on the Court of Appeals' old ruling:
"The Sixth Circuit has ruled on an LGBT-relevant case before, but the outcome and the precedent it set wasn’t favorable to LGBT people.
In the case of Equality Federation v. Cincinnati, the court in 1996 upheld an anti-gay ordinance in Cincinnati forbidding the city from enforcing civil rights ordinances based on sexual orientation. The judges issued this decision despite the Supreme Court ruling in 1992 in Romer v. Evan, which found that a similar measure, Colorado’s Amendment 2, was unconstitutional.
But the Cincinnati ordinance has since been repealed in 2004, and that ruling was delivered years ago before the Supreme Court issued precedent protecting gay people in Lawrence [v. Texas in 2003], and Windsor [v. United States in mid-2013]. 8
"FRC urges public officials in Kentucky to immediately appeal today's ruling to the Sixth Circuit and continue to vigorously defend its marriage law." 6
However, defending the marriage ban would be the task of the Governor or the Attorney General. The FRC may not be aware that both of them have sworn an oath of office to follow and support the federal Constitution. Article VI of the U.S. Constitution clearly says that it takes precedence over all state constitutions. The many state and federal courts that have issued rulings since mid-2013 related to same-sex marriage have determined that state statutes and constitutional amendments banning SSM are unconstitutional. It would seem that state officials have an obligation to accept the District Court's ruling.
2014-JUL-02: The Family Foundation of Kentucky also criticized the court ruling:
During 2004, the Family Foundation of Kentucky organized and promoted the state constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage in the state.
Their executive director, Kent Ostrander, said:
"For all practical purposes, Judge G. Heyburn has declared martial law on marriage policy in Kentucky. This just underscores the fact that we have become a nation of judges rather than a nation of laws. It’s no longer ‘we the people, of the people, by the people and for the people.’ It’s all about the judges and their opinions."
A Family Foundation's senior policy analyst, Martin Cothran, said:
“The judge cited ‘doctrinal developments’ by other federal judges that ignored judicial precedent in favor of traditional marriage laws as a reason for invalidating our law. This raises the ‘everybody else is doing it’ principle to a judicial doctrine.
By taking another important area of policy out of the hands of voters, liberal judges have struck another blow against the separation of powers that is an underlying principle of our form of government.” 11
Actually, federal District Judge did not base his decision on his own opinions. He, and many dozens of federal and state courts, based their rulings on the precedence set by the U.S. Supreme Court in their Windsor ruling. one year previously.
2014-JUL-03: The National Organization for Marriage responded:
"cchretien" wrote, in part:
"[Judge] Heyburn's ruling is a dangerous example of judicial activism gone wild in the United States. Renegade judge after renegade judge has worked to throw out the votes of the American people who have voted to protect marriage. Heyburn's blatant disregard for the will of Kentucky voters and lack of understanding of the intrinsic nature of marriage and what sets it apart from other unions is alarming.
However, there is hope in this case. Honorably, Gov. Beshear is doing his duty by defending the law and the democratic process. And, noting Justice Kennedy's opinion in United States v. Windsor, Heyburn also did not claim that same-sex couples have a “fundamental right” to marry.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati is expected to rule on this in early August. Until then, the redefinition of marriage is on hold in Kentucky." 9
"cchretien" ended his report with something that we can all probably agree to:
"Let's pray that reason, truth, and justice prevail."
2014-JUL-03: Governor Steve Beshear criticizes court ruling:
Governor Beshear (D) defended his administrations belief that if Kentucky were to allow same-sex couples to marry that it would threaten the state's birthrate and economic development. Although lawyers representing the state made these arguments before the district court, Judge Heyburn said that they had never explained how allowing lesbians, gays, and bisexuals to enter marriage with a same-sex spouse would affect the level of procreation among heterosexual, opposite-sex couples. An analysis of the validity of this birth control argument is available elsewhere on this web site.
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
- "Couple sues Kentucky to issue same-sex marriage license," Fox News, 2014-FEB-14, at: http://www.foxnews.com/
- Andrew Wolfson, "Couples ask judge to allow gay marriages in Kentucky," USA Today, 2014-FEB-14, at: http://www.usatoday.com/
- Andrew Wolfson, "Ky. says gay marriage threatens state's birth rates," Courier-Journal, 2014-JUL-01, at: http://www.usatoday.com/
- Andrew Wolfson, "Gays have right to marry in Kentucky, judge rules," Courier-Journal, 2014-JUL-01, at: http://www.usatoday.com/
- David Demirbilek, "Southern Poverty Law Center repeats 'hate group' claim about Family Research Council," Daily Caller, 2012-SEP-13, at: http://dailycaller.com/
- "Kentucky Judge Commits 'Serious' Error in Marriage Ruling," Family Research Council, 2014-JUL-01, at: http://www.frc.org/
- Scottie Thomaston, "Kentucky same-sex marriage ban ruled unconstitutional," Equality on Trial, 2014-JUL-01, at: http://equalityontrial.com/
- Chris Johnson, "Will the 6th Circuit allow Michigan marriages to continue?" Washington Blade, 2014-MAR-24, at:
- "cchretien," "Activist Judge Attempts to Redefine Marriage in Kentucky," National Organization for Marriage, 2014-JUL-03, at: http://www.nomblog.com/
- Judge John G. Heyburn II, "Memorandum Opinion and Order," Federal District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, 2014-JUL-01, at: http://www.scribd.com/
- "Kentucky Family Foundation: Judge has declared martial law by striking down marriage ban," Pink News, 2014-JUL-02, at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/
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Copyright © 2014 & 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2014-FEB-16
Latest update: 2015-MAR-19
Author: B.A. Robinson