|Gene Snyder Courthouse, Western Kentucky District, Louisville, KY/Dept. of Justice|
"To the extent that [Kentucky laws*] deny same-sex couples the right marry in Kentucky, they violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and they are void and unenforceable," said U.S. District Court Judge John G. Heyburn II in his opinion on the case of Love v. Beshear, filed today.
Currently, both the Kentucky Constitution and Kentucky Revised Statute 402.005 (1998) exclude same-sex couples from eligibility for marriage.
Heyburn also ruled earlier this year that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages licensed in other states (Bourke v. Beshear).
Heyburn's opinion methodically addressees the state's arguments in defense of current legislation, which included opposite-sex couples' assumed ability to procreate, and the subsequent economic benefits of a stable birth rate.
"These are not the arguments of serious people," Heyburn wrote.
Heyburn's decision ultimately points to the "intangible and emotional benefits of civil marriage" Kentucky law currently denies same-sex couples.
The case has been scheduled for appeal at the Sixth District U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, in August.
* The decision specifically refers to KRS 402.005 and .020(1)(d) and Section 233A of the Kentucky Constitution. The language was amended here for readability. - pL