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Federal Judge: Ky. same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Angenette Levy) -- A federal judge ruled Wednesday that part of Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional declaring it treats, "gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them."
U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II wrote in a 23-page decision the government cannot, "impose a traditional or faith-based limitation without a sufficient justification for it."
The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed last summer by four same-sex couples married in other states. Those couples sought to have their marriages recognized by the state of Kentucky.
Carl Fox and Terry Bond of Covington were married in New York's Central Park in 2011. Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage didn't permit them to marry in the Bluegrass State.
"Just stunned. Absolutely stunned. Not stunned that it happened but that it happened so fast. I knew that this day would come," Fox said.
Fox and Bond were asked to join the lawsuit but opted not to do so. Last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act cleared the way for Wednesday's decision. Judge Heyburn also cited a federal case out of Cincinnati in which Judge Timothy Black ordered the State of Ohio to permit a gay Cincinnati couple to be listed as married on a death certificate.
"I'm happy about it but there is a realization that we still have a long way to go. There are a lot of court cases to be decided," Bond said.
Kentucky voters overwhelmingly approved a ban on same-sex marriage in 2004. Those who supported the ban were disappointed by the judge's ruling.
"The marriage amendment had more yes votes than yes and no votes on any previous constitutional amendment on the ballot. This is just one more example of social policy through our courts rather than through the more democratic aspects of our government," said Martin Cothran of the Family Foundation of Kentucky.
Carl Fox and Terry Bond compare a recent wave of rulings in favor of same-sex marriage to Loving V. Virginia. The landmark case legalized interracial marriage. The Lovings married in Washington, D.C. in the 1950's and were jailed when they returned to Virginia.
Fox and Bond believe more rulings in favor of same-sex marriage will follow.
"I do know in my heart and soul that the day that he and I will be recognized in this state and in the United States period that's going to come," Fox said.
Attorney General Jack Conway issued a statement on the ruling.
"I took an oath when I was sworn in as Attorney General to uphold Kentucky's constitution. I did my duty and defended Kentucky's constitutional amendment in federal court. Today, Judge Heyburn issued a decision holding that Kentucky's constitutional amendment conflicts with the United States Constitution. The order is not final and states that there will be an additional hearing set in the near future. It would be inappropriate to comment further about the future of this case until that hearing is held and a final order is entered."
Judge Heyburn said he will hold a hearing in the near future to discuss "the appropriate relief and the timing of its effect."