A welcome sign of Ky. tolerance: Poll shows softening toward gay marriage

The latest Bluegrass Poll reflects a significant shift in Kentuckians' feelings about same-sex marriage since 2004, when a constitutional ban on such unions won the approval of nearly 75 percent of the voters casting ballots.

Today, according to poll results published in Tuesday's Herald-Leader, just 50 percent of voters oppose same-sex marriage while 37 percent now favor such unions.

Notably, the latest poll found opposition to same-sex marriage had dropped five percentage points since a similar Bluegrass Poll was conducted in February.

So, the welcome growth in acceptance of our gay and lesbian fellow Kentuckians' civil liberties appears to be accelerating. Perhaps not as fast as the remarkable change in public attitudes happening in other parts of the nation, but still trending in the right direction.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 states. Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, federal judges across the land have been tossing out state bans as well. Decisions affecting bans in 12 states, including Kentucky, are under appeal.

This week, a federal appeals court ruled Virginia's ban unconstitutional. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper responded to that ruling by saying his state would no longer defend its ban. The Los Angeles Times quoted Cooper as saying, "Simply put, it is time to stop making arguments we will lose and instead move forward, knowing that the ultimate resolution will likely come from the U.S. Supreme Court."

Too bad Gov. Steve Beshear didn't have the sense to quit fighting when Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway wisely declined to appeal U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II's ruling that the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The tax dollars Beshear's paying outside lawyers to appeal this ruling and Heyburn's subsequent decision declaring Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional could be put to far better use. Legal arguments about the state ban will be heard next week.

The ultimate resolution, however, will come from the Supreme Court, and it seems inevitable what the it will be. The times and attitudes are changing and changing fast, and well they should.

The more we come to know our gay and lesbian fellow Kentuckians and Americans as our co-workers, our neighbors, our friends and our family members, the harder it becomes to defend denying them any rights heterosexuals enjoy.

Harland "Ed" Hundley of Pulaski County, a participant in the latest Bluegrass Poll, put it well when he told the Herald-Leader in a follow-up interview: "This is America. They pay taxes like I do, they should have the same rights that I do."