Federal Judge Weighing Challenge to Kentucky Gay Marriage Ban
LOUISVILLE, KY. - A federal judge in Louisville is weighing the fate of Kentucky's ban on same sex marriages as similar laws around the country have been overturned.
Two cases brought to try to force the state to recognize same sex marriages have been fully briefed and submitted to U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II. Among the filings were decisions by federal judges in Oklahoma and Utah striking down laws in those states.
While Heyburn, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush, isn't bound by decisions in other federal districts and hasn't indicated when he'll rule, attorneys for the two couples seeking to have their marriages recognized are hoping the logic behind those rulings will come into play in their own cases.
"Realistically, all the other judges are looking to see what's going on," said Shannon Fauver, who represents two men seeking to have their marriage in Canada recognized in Kentucky. "It is a sea change that all the states are going this way."
Judges in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Ohio and Utah have all ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. Gay marriages in Utah have been put on hold pending a decision from the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In the Kentucky cases, Gregory Bourke and Michael De Leon sued in July to force the state to recognize their marriage as legal. In August, Kimberly Franklin and Tamera Boyd filed to have their marriage recognized as well.
Laura E. Landewich, a Louisville attorney handling the case of the two women, said the Oklahoma and Utah cases "have given us additional legal analysis and perspectives, which we hope will be persuasive and also serve as a guide for the ruling in our case."
Kentucky officials, in court filings, have said none of the four plaintiffs has standing to sue and that the state has an obligation to defend "traditional marriage" as outlined in the state's constitution.
While Kentucky judges have granted adoptions to same-sex couples, the state treats them differently than opposite-sex couples by not allowing both partners to be listed as parents, Barkley said. According to the 2010 Census, about 2,800 same-sex couples are raising children in Kentucky. De Leon is the father of an adopted 15-year-old boy and 14-year-old girl. Bourke has been designated a legal guardian for the children.