same-sex marriage

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Public opinion will flip in favor of same-sex marriage—though it will take time to happen, an attorney who helped lead the legal fight against California’s anti-same-sex union law Proposition 8 said in Louisville this week.

This month, the Bluegrass Poll found opposition to same-sex marriage has grown in Kentucky from 50 percent to 57 percent since last summer.

Speaking at a forum with University of Louisville law students on Tuesday, attorney David Boies said other states have set an example of how acceptance of same-sex marriage will play out in the U.S.

“You have marriage equality now in Florida, in Virginia, in the Carolinas, and Utah,” Boies said. “I mean, these were states were people said ‘marriage equality will never work, people will be up in arms, the sky will be falling.’

“Well what happened? Well, nothing happened except everyone got to marry the person they love.”

The Louisville-based Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will recognize same-sex marriage for all of its congregations.

The top Presbyterian legislative body endorsed the new wording last year, but amending the church’s constitution required approval from the majority of regional bodies, called presbyteries. That majority was reached Tuesday with a favorable vote by New Jersey’s Presbytery of the Palisades, according to the Associated Press.

The denomination will expand its definition of marriage in the church constitution to say that marriage is a “commitment between two people.”

The Mid-Kentucky Presbytery, made up of more than 50 congregations, voted earlier this month in favor of the change. As WFPL reported, not everyone is expected to be happy about the decision.

Rev. Dr. Peggy Hinds, associate general presbyter for the Mid-Kentucky Presbytery, said at the time: “We have a lot of congregations who, this will upset them if this passes. We have other congregations wondering why it’s taken this long.”

The Mid-Kentucky Presbytery as voted this weekend to approve a same-sex marriage amendment to the national church’s constitution.

The presbytery includes more than 50 congregations from Kentucky. Its vote on Saturday will count as just one of 172 presbyteries that make up Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which is headquartered in Louisville.

Representatives from presbyteries across the country are voting whether to rewrite language in the national church’s constitution that would recognize love as being between two people instead of between a man and a woman.

A majority of the presbyteries that have already voted have supported the amendment. Those include the Presbytery of Transylvania in eastern Kentucky.

The vote Saturday was 97 in favor, 9 against, and 1 abstention, according to Rev. Dr. Peggy Hinds, associate general presbyter for Mid-Kentucky Presbytery.

Representatives from more than 50 congregations that make up the Mid-Kentucky Presbytery will convene in Louisville on Saturday to vote on whether to approve same-sex marriage as part of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s constitution.

The votes taking place this weekend will count as just 1 of 172 presbytery votes that make up Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), whose headquarters is located in Louisville. As it stands now, the national vote is 55 in favor of new language that would recognize marriage as love between two people.

Twenty-two presbyteries have voted against it.

As Alabama becomes the most recent state to issue same sex marriages, some lawmakers there are decrying a federal judge’s decision to strike down the ban and the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to intervene. Kentucky, another largely conservative state, may receive a final decision on its gay marriage ban this summer. The impending decision has some public officials reexamining their role as marriage officiants.


Updated at 5:04 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide on gay marriage this term.

The justices said today they will review an appellate court's decision to uphold the ban on same-sex marriage in Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky. The four states are among 14 that ban same-sex marriage.

The U.S. Supreme Court could decide this month whether it will consider same-sex marriage cases from Kentucky.

Last year, Kentucky same-sex couples challenged the state’s constitutional same-sex marriage ban, asking that their marriages from other jurisdictions be recognized. U.S. District Judge John Heyburn sided with the couples. Later in 2014, Heyburn ruled in a separate case that the state must also allow same-sex marriages to be performed in Kentucky. He also issued a stay on the decisions pending appeal.

The Tennessee attorney general is asking the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear an appeal of a ruling last month that upheld the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Instead, it wants the high court to let that favorable ruling stand.

The ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals marked a rare victory for gay rights opponents. But because it conflicts with gay marriage decisions in other circuits, legal observers believe it could push the Supreme Court to take up the issue of gay marriage.

In a Monday court filing, Tennessee argues that there is no need for the Supreme Court to review the case because both the 6th Circuit's opinion and Supreme Court precedent recognize the inherent power of the states to define marriage.

Alix Mattingly

In oral arguments Wednesday before a federal appeals court, Gov. Steve Beshear's attorney re-emphasized a stance that same-sex should not be allowed because the couples cannot procreate, raising issues for Kentucky's population growth and economy.

The three-judge panel from the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals will decide the fate of same-sex marriage bans in four states, including Kentucky, as the issue winds its way toward a likely appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case could prove "pivotal" because, unlike past federal appeals courts that took up the same-sex marriage issue, the 6th Circuit may allow to stand state laws banning such marriage, legal observer Carl Tobias told Kentucky Public Radio before the arguments. 

If appeals court affirmed the state laws, these cases would have a greater chance of being argued before the Supreme Court, said Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond.

The appeals court will likely render an opinion within the next several months.

Gregory Bourke

Gregory Bourke of Louisville has waited a long time for his day in court.

“Thirty-two years we’ve been together," Bourke told WKU Public Radio.  "Most other couples would have been married and recognized and put all this to rest a long time ago.”

Bourke, his husband, and their adopted children will be in the courtroom Wednesday as the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals takes up gay marriage fights in Kentucky and three other states.

“I think this is a major historic moment in the history of American constitutional law," suggested Dr. Patti Minter, a legal and constitutional historian at WKU. 

The cases from Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, and Michigan are each unique, but they all deal with whether statewide gay marriage bans violate the Constitution.

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