A federal judge on Tuesday struck down
down Kentucky's ban on gay marriage, saying it was unconstitutional.
In his 19-page ruling, U.S. District
Judge John G. Heyburn II wrote: “[T]his Court holds that the
Commonwealth's exclusion of same-sex couples from civil marriage
violates the Equal Protection Clause [of the U.S. Constitution].”
“In America, even sincerely and
long-held religious beliefs do not trump the constitutional rights of
those who happen to have been out-voted,” he added.
In February, Heyburn ordered the state
to recognize the out-of-state marriages of gay and lesbian couples.
Heyburn, who was appointed to the bench
by President George H. W. Bush in 1992, put his ruling on hold.
Evan Wolfson, founder and president of
Freedom to Marry, applauded the decision.
“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,” Wolfson said in a statement.
“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.”
State lawyers argued that the ban was
needed to “ensure humanity's continued existence.”
“The continued expansion of the
population through stable birth rate growth fosters long-term
economic stability, unquestionably a valid state interest,” the
Heyburn dismissed the arguments as “not
those of serious people.”
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, a
Democrat, hired private attorneys for the case after Attorney General
Jack Conway announced that he would not defend in court Kentucky's
2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment limiting marriage to
AG refuses to defend gay marriage ban; Gov. to hire outside counsel.)
(Ruling provided by Equality