Though not surprising, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II's ruling striking down Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage is a milestone to celebrate.
"In America," Heyburn wrote, "even sincere and long-held religious beliefs do not trump the constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted."
Also, "Assuring equal protection for same-sex couples does not diminish the freedom of others to any degree."
Heyburn, who was appointed to the federal bench by Republican President George H. W. Bush on Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell's recommendation, scoffed at Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear's defense of the ban as necessary to ensure the procreation of future Kentuckians and economic stability.
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"These arguments are not those of serious people," wrote Heyburn, explaining, though "it seems unnecessary," that same- sex marriage has no effect on how many heterosexuals marry or how many children they have.
In March, Heyburn ruled that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages from other states. The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will hear Beshear's arguments against that ruling, along with related appeals from other states, next month.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act a year ago, marriage bans have fallen like dominoes.
Sadly, though, Kentucky will defend its unconstitutional ban. Heyburn stayed his ruling while Beshear appeals, meaning Kentuckians will continue to suffer the injustices and indignities described by the plaintiffs.
Timothy Love, for example, had to delay emergency heart surgery while documents were executed giving decision-making power to his partner, Lawrence Ysunza.
"The couple fears that health care providers and assisted living facilities may not allow them to be together or care for each other as they age," Heyburn wrote.
When he upheld marriages from other states in March, Heyburn signaled that he would strike down Kentucky's ban altogether if asked, which he promptly was.
With the addition of new plaintiffs, the case was retitled Love v. Beshear.
The Internet lit up yesterday with vows that in Kentucky, love had won.