Kentucky couple challenge marriage ban

After the Supreme Court’s Ruling against DOMA in the United States, many   couples are now suing their home states, because their marriages are not recognised, and they are being denied their rights as married couples.

An extract from a legal challenge, submitted on 26th July, Friday last, by Kentucky couple, Gregory Bourke and Michael Deleon, to the state’s gay marriage ban states:

7. The Commonwealth’s exclusion of same-sex couples from recognition of their marriages adversely impacts the Plaintiffs and same-sex couples across the Commonwealth in other significant ways. It excludes them from the many legal protections available to spouses. For example, when one spouse dies, the surviving spouse may face serious financial hardship, including the loss of the family house, because he is denied the inheritance tax exemption provided to surviving spouses. Due to Kentucky’s refusal to allow or to recognize their marriages, same-sex couples are also denied many federal protections afforded to other married couples such as the ability to take time off work to care for a sick spouse under the Family Medical Leave Act and access to a spouse’s social security retirement benefits.

The defendants in the case are: Governor of Kentucky Steve Breshear, Jack Conway as Attorney General, and Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw, all in their official capacities.

The couple, both 55, state that they and their children live in Louisville, and are active members of the Catholic Church. They have both been employed for over 19 years, and have been together for thirty one years, They met while students at the University of Kentucky.
They also state that they have been a family raising children for over ten years.
They feel that they are being denied their basic rights as a married couple, as they were married in Ontario, in Canada, on March 29th, 2004. Those same rights are being denied to many other same-sex couples in Kentucky, who are married, but who are not recognised as such by the state. This, say the couple, harms them, and harms their children, a fourteen year old girl and a fifteen year old boy:

The fact that their parents’ marriage is not recognized in Kentucky harms them [the children] materially by reducing family resources and stigmatizes them by denying their family social recognition and respect.

the complaint also argues:

The Commonwealth’s exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage is not rationally related to any legitimate governmental interest. All it does i[s] disparage and injure lesbian and gay couples and their children.[…]. .and violates the Equal Protection Clause [of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution].

Needless to say, same-sex couples all over America, are keeping an eye on what happens with these early challenges to individual state laws against equal marriage.

MKB/Eile

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