This just in: a federal judge in Kentucky has struck down part of the state's discriminatory ban on same-sex marriage on equal protection grounds. While U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn did not rule that Kentucky must allow same-sex couples the freedom to marry, he invalidated a provision barring the state from recognizing valid same-sex marriages performed in other states.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reports:
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." Citing the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling throwing out the Defense of Marriage Act, 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..."
In a 23-page ruling, Heyburn said Kentucky's sole justification for the the amendment was that was it was "rationally related to the legitimate government interest of preserving the state's institution of traditional marriage."
But Heyburn noted that over the past 40 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to allow mere tradition to justify marriage statutes that violate individual liberties, such as the ban on interracial marriages that was once the law in Virginia, Kentucky and other states.
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."
A great step towards full marriage equality in Kentucky. Bravo!!
Judge Heyburn's opinion and order are after the jump, via Equality Case Files.