Kentucky Defends Same-Sex Marriage Ban
In an 18-page filing in federal court in Louisville, Assistant Attorney General Clay Barkley asked U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Gregory Bourke and Michael De Leon. Barkley wrote that the men lack standing to challenge the law.
Bourke and De Leon, who were married in Canada nine years ago, sued in July to force the state to recognize valid unions from other states and countries. The men are seeking an injunction to stop state and local officials from enforcing the ban written into the Kentucky constitution in 2004. The suit is the first such challenge in Kentucky since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The act had blocked married same-sex couples from receiving the same benefits as heterosexual spouses.
Kentucky changed its state constitution in 2004 to include the prohibition on same-sex marriage. The amendment reads: "Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Kentucky" and "A marriage between members of the same sex which occurs in another jurisdiction shall be void in Kentucky."
Much of the state’s filing is boilerplate legal language. But, Barkley said same-sex couples seeking to marry "are just as willing as opposite-sex couples to assume the obligations of marriage" and, if allowed to marry, would "benefit equally from the legal protections and social recognition afforded to married couples."
While Kentucky judges have granted adoptions to same-sex couples, the state treats them differently than opposite-sex couples by not allowing both partners to be listed as parents, Barkley said. According to the 2010 Census, about 2,800 same-sex couples are raising children in Kentucky. De Leon is the father of an adopted 15-year-old boy and 14-year-old girl. Bourke has been designated a legal guardian for the children.
Bourke, a 55-year-old applications consultant at Humana, and Deleon, a 55-year-old database administrator at General Electric, were married in at Niagara Falls in Canada, in 2004. Both men said the recent decision by the Supreme Court proved to be the impetus to challenge Kentucky’s ban.
Challenges to same-sex marriage bans have been filed in recent months in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and New Mexico. The American Civil Liberties Union has said challenges are also expected in Virginia, Nevada, Hawaii and Michigan.