MOMENTUM IN KY: Circuit Judge in Kentucky rules in favor of freedom to marry

Yesterday, April 16, a Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate in Kentucky ruled in favor of the freedom to marry for two same-sex couples in the state, putting the decision on hold until the United States Supreme Court rules on the question of the freedom to marry later this year.

Two same-sex couples, Lindsey Bain and Daniel Rogers, and David Hardee and Marshall Robertson, applied for and were denied marriage licenses separately in Kentucky, and both couples filed cases in the Franklin Circuit. The cases were later combined.

Judge Wingate wrote in his order:

This Court believes that marriage, regardless of whether the union is between members of the same sex or opposite sex, is a fundamental right. Kentucky's efforts to deny lawfully married same-sex couples the benefits of that marriage, and to deny other same-sex couples the right to marry at all, does not survive substantive due process scrutiny.

On April 28, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in a marriage case from Kentucky, as well as cases from Tennessee, Ohio, and Michigan. The cases that the Supreme Court will be hearing arguments in are Bourke v. Breshear and Love v. Breshear.

Review was granted in a petition for a writ of certiori filed in these cases on November 17 by Fauver Law Office, Clay Daniel Walton & Adams, the American Civil Liberties Union and Stanford Law School's Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. The state of Kentucky agreed in their brief that the Supreme Court should take up the case.

The petition sought review of a November 6 ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which reversed a lower court ruling in these federal cases seeking the freedom to marry in Kentucky and respect for marriages legally performed in other states in Kentucky. The out-of-step decision ignored nearly 50 pro-marriage rulings since June 2013.

Last night, Judge Wingate included that he was optimistic for the Supreme Court's ruling this summer, believing that "this Court fully believes plaintiffs will be vindicated by the United States Supreme Court's upcoming ruling."

Read more about litigation in Kentucky here.