Federal judge says KY must recognize same-sex marraiges

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Reporter - Robert Bradfield
Photographer - Mike Bradford

A ban recognizing same-sex marriages from other states in Kentucky must be lifted. That ruling came down on Wednesday from a federal judge who says part of the ban approved by voters in 2004 "demeans" same-sex couples who were married out of state.

The ruling affects same-sex couples who will now have the same state benefits offered to heterosexual couples. That includes: filing joined state taxes, parental rights, and end-of-life decisions.

U.S. District Judge John Heyburn handed down the ruling, and in those 23 pages, he says that Kentucky's ban only has one effect: to impose inequality. He also said rulings from other states and the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act last year played a part in his ruling.

"That swayed largely in how he came to this decision, the things that were involved in other states and federal courts. In reading the opinion, it seemed that it was argued that it was time the due process applied," said Bill Cassie, a political science professor from Murray State University.

However, there are things that the ruling does not do. It does not require the state of Kentucky to perform same-sex marriages, and it also doesn't address whether private companies require job benefits to both partners.

Cassie says it could apply to state employees, and a lawsuit on that part of the law could be challenged next. He also said the tide of same-sex marriages across the nation is changing.

Heyburn said that recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings suggest a possible result to the question of whether this ruling will pave the way for same-sex marriages in Kentucky.

This ruling does not affect federal benefits, which was addressed by a federal order from the Justice Department on Monday, which applies to filing joint federal taxes, survivor benefits, and bankruptcy cases.

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