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Federal Judge Who Struck Down Kentucky's Ban on Gay Marriage Dies

U.S. District Court Judge John G. Heyburn, who ordered in February 2014 that out-of-state same-sex marriages be recognized in Kentucky and five months later struck down the state's gay marriage ban in a separate ruling, has died at age 66, Reuters reports:

HeyburnHeyburn died at his Louisville home surrounded by family after a years-long battle with cancer, the U.S. District Court for Western Kentucky said in a statement.

Here is a bit from Heyburn's equal protection analysis in Love v. Beshear:

The Court will begin with Defendant’s only asserted justification for Kentucky’s laws prohibiting same-sex marriage: “encouraging, promoting, and supporting the formation of relationships that have the natural ability to procreate.” Perhaps recognizing that procreation-based arguments have not succeeded in this Court, nor any other court post-Windsor, Defendant adds a disingenuous twist to the argument: traditional marriages contribute to a stable birth rate which, in turn, ensures the state’s long-term economic stability.

These arguments are not those of serious people. Though it seems almost unnecessary to explain, here are the reasons why. Even assuming the state has a legitimate interest in promoting procreation, the Court fails to see, and Defendant never explains, how the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage has any effect whatsoever on procreation among heterosexual spouses. Excluding same-sex couples from marriage does not change the number of heterosexual couples who choose to get married, the number who choose to have children, or the number of children they have.

You can read our legal editor Ari Ezra Waldman's analysis of his ruling here.

Heyburn was appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1992 at the recommendation of now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.


Judge Rules In Favor Of Kentucky Printer Who Refused To Print Gay Pride T-Shirts: VIDEO

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A Kentucky court has ruled in favor of a shop that refused to print gay pride festival t-shirts, reports the Gazette.

The ruling by County Circuit Judge James Ishmael overturned a 2014 decision by Fayette’s Human Rights Commission (HRC) that Hands On Originals violated a city law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.

6a00d8341c730253ef01bb0795942d970d-500wiIshmael said the HRC went beyond its statutory authority in siding with advocacy group Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO).

He argued that Hands On Originals' refusal to print GLSO’s 2012 pride festival t-shirts was not based on the sexual orientation of the group’s members but on "the message advocating sexual activity outside of a marriage between one man and one woman."

He added that the owners of Hands On Originals have in the past turned down orders for shirts promoting strip clubs and containing violent messages.

Jim Campbell, a lawyer from anti-gay Christian litigation group Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), said:

"The government can't force citizens to surrender free-speech rights or religious freedom in order to run a small business, and this decision affirms that.”

GLSO President Christopher Bauer said in a statement:

"We feel that this is just a reminder that there are still many out there who feel that their citizenship is worth more than that of members of the [LGBT] community.”

GLSO and the HRC are considering an appeal of the ruling.

Watch an ADF interview with Hands On Originals owner Dewayne Adamson, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Judge Rules In Favor Of Kentucky Printer Who Refused To Print Gay Pride T-Shirts: VIDEO" »


Gay Marriage News Watch: MI, KY, OH, TN - VIDEO

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Matt Baume with American Foundation for Equal Rights reports on the four briefs filed with the Supreme Court by the four states who will be defending state bans on same-sex marriage - Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee. 

The briefs, as Baume explains, are filled with "weird claims and arguments that just don't make sense."

Dive in, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gay Marriage News Watch: MI, KY, OH, TN - VIDEO" »


Kentucky Governor Offers Ridiculous Argument To SCOTUS On Gay Marriage Ban: VIDEO

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear argued in a brief filed last week before the U.S. Supreme Court that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is not discriminatory because both gay and straight people are banned from marrying people of the same gender, reports the Courier-Journal.

6a00d8341c730253ef017c3806bbd9970b-200wiThe governor’s argument mirrors that offered by the state of Virginia nearly fifty years ago when it defended laws barring interracial marriage arguing they weren't discriminatory because whites were barred from marrying blacks just as blacks were barred from marrying whites.

In 1967, the Supreme Court rejected that argument in the historic case of Loving v. Virginia, in which a white man and a black woman were charged with a crime for marrying.

According to Dan Canon, a lawyer for six gay couples challenging the state’s same-sex marriage ban in a case to be argued at the Supreme Court on April 28, Beshear's argument is "especially absurd" as applied to same-sex marriage:

"Kentucky is in essence saying that our clients are precluded from marriage entirely, unless they change their sexual orientation (or simply marry someone to whom they are not attracted). It's akin to passing a law banning all Catholic churches within city limits, and then saying it's not discriminatory because you can still go to a Baptist church.”

Arguing that Beshear’s defense of marriage inequality “has really hit a new low,” Sam Marcosson, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Louisville's Brandeis School of Law, added:

"I wonder what Governor Beshear and his lawyers would say if the shoe was on the other foot, and if the only option for marriage was of the same-sex variety. Whatever his reasons, the governor has set Kentucky on a course of fighting to preserve invidious discrimination, and he has waged that fight in a deeply embarrassing way. The taint to his legacy will be difficult for history to ignore."

Although Beshear has refused to comment, Mat Staver of listed hate group Liberty Counsel said that same-sex couples are not "similarly situated" to opposite-sex couples and therefore are not entitled to equal protection under the law.

Watch American Foundation for Equal Rights lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies discuss how Loving v. Virginia sets an important precedence for marriage equality, AFTER THE JUMP...

In 2013, Beshear vetoed a bill which would allow religious individuals to claim an exemption from any law or policy that prohibits discrimination.

Continue reading "Kentucky Governor Offers Ridiculous Argument To SCOTUS On Gay Marriage Ban: VIDEO" »


Kentucky State Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Anti-trans Bathroom Bill for Students

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Yesterday, the Kentucky Senate approved a bill that would require transgender students in the state to use the bathroom that matches their biological sex rather than their gender identification.

The vote was 27-9, with three Republicans joining Senate Democrats in opposing the bill. 

The Courier-Journal reports:

EmbryRepublican Sen. C.B. Embry (right), the bill's sponsor, calls it a "common sense" approach to guide school administrators and safeguard privacy in areas where students are in a state of undress. Supporters argue the rule also would help protect transgender students from bullying and harassment by providing separate accommodations.

But opponents charged Friday that lawmakers are yielding to fear and discrimination. They said the bill will strip flexibility from school districts and violate federal guidelines on civil rights for transgender students.

"We need to acknowledge that this is the civil rights issue of our current time, and today this Senate has failed the people of Kentucky," said Sen. Reginald Thomas, a Democrat who warned that the legislation would "cast a shroud of darkness" over the Senate.

Under the legislation, transgender students must either use the bathroom of their biological sex or seek special accommodations such as a faculty or unisex bathroom. 

The Lexington Herald-Leader has background on why the bill was introduced in the first place:

The bill stems from a controversy last year at Atherton, where a transgender student who was born male identified as a female and wanted to use the girls' bathrooms and locker rooms.

A controversy arose, and the school eventually adopted a policy of letting students use bathrooms based on their gender identity. The decision was backed by the school's site-based council and a Jefferson County Public Schools appeals committee. 

The bill now heads to the Democrat-controlled House, where Speaker Greg Stumbo has already indicated he isn't interested in taking up the bill and "deciding where kids can go to the bathroom."


Kentucky Senate Panel Approves Discriminatory Transgender Bathroom Bill

Kentucky Senate meeting

What is with the anti-trans crowd's obsession with bathrooms? Do they think trans kids are all Eric Cartman, sticking a bow on their head and faking it to get some nefarious need met?

This past Monday the Kentucky Senate Education Committee revisited and approved Senate Bill 76 in an 8-1 vote in an attempt to force transgender students to use the bathroom at their school that matches their biological sex rather than their gender identification. In a particularly shady move, the committee kept its agenda for Monday in perpetual "Pending" status and no mention of the bill was ever made to the public until it was brought up at the meeting.

Opponents called the bill "mean-spirited" and contended that it may violate federal law governing the equal treatment of male and female students. Proponents claim that transgender rights are being elevated above student rights and that they don't feel comfortable with trans students using the "wrong" bathroom.

The Republican-led Senate is expected to approve the bill and pass it on to the Democratic-controlled House.


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