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Kentucky Baptist Church To Perform Same-Sex Marriage Next Year - VIDEO

Highland baptist church kentucky

In a break with most of the church’s denominations, Highland Baptist Church in Kentucky announced it will marry couple David Bannister and Steven Carr next May.

Highland, which will become the third Baptist church in the area to perform same-sex weddings, is considered to be at the more liberal end of the congregation’s spectrum. In 2012, Highland ordained openly gay Minister Maurice Blanchard.

The news comes following a wave of recent pro-equality judicial decisions, including the June 25 decision in Indiana that struck down that state's marriage ban, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling in Utah which ruled broadly in favor of marriage equality, and a July 1 decision that found Kentucky has no constitutional right to ban same-sex couples from marrying.

Although U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled in the Kentucky decision that "long-held religious beliefs do not trump the constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted," he stayed the ruling until the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decides same-sex marriage cases from Kentucky and three other states, according to The Courier-Journal.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has hired a law firm to handle the appeal after Attorney General Jack Conway declined to appeal the ruling. 

Speaking to The Courier Journal, Pastor Joe Phelps said that the decision to perform the marriage has upset some members of the congregation, who have nonetheless taken the decision to stay with the church.

Sam Marcosson, a law professor at the University of Louisville, said:

"What Highland is really doing is what churches do on important issues. They're taking a stand in order to influence their community and move their community in a certain direction."

Beshear's lawyers will make their arguments to reverse Heyburn's ruling on August 6.

Watch a report on Heyburn's decision to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage in Kentucky, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Kentucky Baptist Church To Perform Same-Sex Marriage Next Year - VIDEO" »


Federal Judge Strikes Down Kentucky's Marriage Discrimination Law

BY ARI EZRA WALDMAN

Kentucky-flagIn the 23rd consecutive pro-equality ruling from a federal court since the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Windsor, Judge John G. Heyburn, a President George H.W. Bush appointee at the recommendation of now-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, struck down Kentucky's ban on gay couples marrying. Those of us following the situation in Kentucky knew this was coming: Judge Heyburn had previously ruled that Kentucky had to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples performed out of state. It was a small step to invalidate Kentucky's own ban.

The opinion in the case, aptly captioned Love v. Beshear, reviews much of the ground covered by the 22 rulings that preceded it. It also departs from the past by, in particular, both relying on Windsor and narrowing it. It explicitly declines to take the route preferred by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Kitchen v. Herbet, which was to find Utah's ban unconstitutional as a violation of a fundamental due process right, and instead relies on the Equal Protection Clause. Judge Heyburn concluded that Windsor was an equal protection ruling, not a due process one. The confusion stems from the lack of clarity in Justice Kennedy's opinion. The result is the same: the ban is unconstitutional.

AFTER THE JUMP, I review in detail Judge Heyburn's interpretation of Windsor and show how it is different than many of the cases that have come before it in the post-Windsor world.

Continue reading "Federal Judge Strikes Down Kentucky's Marriage Discrimination Law" »


Federal Judge Strikes Down Kentucky’s Ban On Same-Sex Marriage

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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:

6a00d8341c730253ef01a73d84b8b2970d-300wi"In America, even sincere and long-hold religious beliefs do not trump the constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted," [Heyburn wrote]…

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. 


Federal Appeals Court to Hear Gay Marriage Challenges from MI, OH, KY, and TN on August 6

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled hearings for five marriage cases in four states on August 6, the Washington Blade reports:

LmcIn four separate notices on Monday, the Sixth Circuit, which is located in Cincinnati, announced that arguments for the cases in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee will take place on August 6 at 1 pm.

James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT project, said his organization welcomes the developments for each of the cases. His organization is assisting with litigation in the Ohio case.

“We’re happy to see the Circuit taking up this issue so quickly,” Esseks said. “All the cases together reinforce how sweeping and widespread are the harms that come from the marriage bans.”

Every case seeks same-sex marriage recognition rights of some sort, except the case from Michigan, which seeks to win the freedom for gay couples to marry in the state.

According to Equality on Trial:

Michigan: Arguments in DeBoer v. Snyder will be one hour, with 30 minutes per side.

Ohio: Arguments in Henry v. Himes and Obergefell v. Himes will be one hour, with 30 minutes per side.

Kentucky: Arguments in Bourke v. Beshear will be 30 minutes, 15 minutes per side.

Tennessee: Arguments in Tanco v. Haslam will be 30 minutes, 15 minutes per side.

In related news, DOMA attorney Roberta Kaplan had filed a motion to intervene in the Ohio case but she has been denied:

According to the eight-page notice handed down from the court, Kaplan was denied the ability to participate because the cases is too far advanced at this point.

The state of Ohio and the ACLU had objected to Kaplan's motion to intervene.


Monday Speed Read: Arkansas, Scorecard, Ohio, Kentucky, Michael Sam

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

PiazzaARKANSAS GOES DOWN:

A county circuit court judge in Arkansas on Friday ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution and does not “advance any conceivable legitimate state interest necessary to support even a rational basis review.” Wright v. Arkansas was filed on behalf of 20 same-sex couples –some who sought to marry in Arkansas and some who sought to have their out-of-state marriages recognized there. Judge Chris Piazza noted that the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down the state’s law prohibiting private consensual sodomy one hear before the U.S. Supreme Court did so. And, he concluded, “It has been over forty years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice. The hatred and fears have long since vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together; so it will be for the same-sex couples. It is time to let that beacon of freedom shine brighter on all our brothers and sisters. We will be stronger for it.”

2_arkansasFIRST MARRIAGES IN ARKANSAS:

Because Judge Chris Piazza did not put a stay on his May 9 decision, same-sex couples began applying Saturday morning for marriage licenses. The first was granted in Eureka Springs to a young lesbian couple. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported couples from as far away as Texas and Oklahoma drove to Eureka to get married. It estimated 100 people were lined up when the office opened at 9 Saturday morning. The state’s attorney general, although he has said he supports the right of same-sex couples to marry, has indicated he will defend the laws on appeal and ask for a stay.

SCORECARD ON VICTORIES:

Not counting Arkansas yet, there are currently 17 states and the District of Columbia with laws that provide for marriage equality. Another nine states have had courts strike down their laws banning same-sex marriage. Eight of the nine are on appeal before federal appeals courts. Only cases for two states have been argued at the appeals level –both before the Tenth Circuit. Tomorrow, a case from Virginia will be argued before the Fourth Circuit. A case from a 10th state, Hawaii, is still pending before the Ninth Circuit which has asked for briefs by early June on why the case should not be considered moot. Hawaii’s legislature passed a bill last year, eliminating its ban on same-sex marriages.

OHIO APPEALS AS EXPECTED:

The Ohio attorney general filed a notice of appeal Friday with the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, asking the court to overturn a district court decision that ordered Ohio to recognize marriage licenses for same-sex couples from other states.

BeshearDIFFERENTLY SITUATED:

The Kentucky governor filed a brief May 7, asking the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse a district court’s ruling that struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. In the brief for in Bourke v. Beshear, Kentucky argues that same-sex couples who want to marry are not “similarly situated” as man-woman couples who want to marry, but are “materially different.”

ST. LOUIS DRAFTS MICHAEL SAM:

Openly gay college football star Michael Sam became the first openly gay pro football player Saturday when the St. Louis Rams chose him in the last round of picks. Sam chose to come out at one of the most vulnerable times in his career –just as he was finishing up his stint at the University of Missouri and just before the National Football League’s annual draft. NBC News noted that, by staying in Missouri, Sam’s new team “ensured that he’ll be in front of a supportive fan base.”

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Pro-Marriage Equality Kentucky AG Jack Conway Announces Bid for Governor

Jack conwayKentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, who made headlines in March when he tearfully announced he wouldn’t defend his state’s gay marriage ban in an appeal of a federal court’s ruling, has thrown his hat into the 2015 governor’s race.

In an interview with the AP, Conway said he isn't concerned that his pro-equality stance may hurt his chances in the conservative state. As public opinion continues to shift in favor of gay marriage, Conway said Kentucky voters will tire of rehashing the debate come November 2015.

"I think in the fall of 2015 that will not be the big issue," he said. "I think the voters will be more interested in building Kentucky's future than in reliving all of that."

Conway’s refusal to defend the ban led to Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear hiring private attorneys to appeal the gay marriage ruling. Yesterday, those attorneys filed an 'offensive' brief arguing that the state’s ban should be maintained because gay marriage threatens birth rates, and thus economic competitiveness, in Kentucky. 


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