Federal Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled today that Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, stating that gays are a "disadvantaged class” deserving protections similar to those received by women in equal protections cases. The Courrier-Journal reports:
Heyburn rejected the only justification offered by lawyers for Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear — that traditional marriages contribute to a stable birth rate and the state's long-term economic stability.
"These arguments are not those of serious people," he said.
Heyburn held that the ban on gay marriage within Kentucky violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law and that there is "no conceivable legitimate purpose for it."
He held that the state's 2004 constitutional amendment and a similar statute enacted in 1998 deny gay couples lower income and estate taxes; leave from work under the Family and Medical Leave Act, family insurance coverage; and the ability to adopt children as a couple.
"Perhaps most importantly," he added, the Kentucky law denies same-sex couples the "intangible and and emotional benefits of civil marriage."
The case in question was brought before Heyburn by two couples, Timothy Love and Lawrence Ysunza, who have been together for thirty-three years, and Maurice Blanchard and Dominique James, who have been together for ten, after Heyburn ruled in a previous decision that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state. As in his previous ruling, Heyburn put a hold on his latest decision, preventing same-sex couples from being able to wed immediately. Heyburn wants the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to decide on the challenge to Kentucky’s marriage ben it is set to hear in August before his ruling would go into effect.