Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Leads to Elation For Kentucky Plaintiffs
Update 7:14 p.m.: A Short Rally
Just before a storm passed over Louisville on Friday evening, same-sex marriage supporters gathered at Jefferson Square downtown to celebrate.
Some clerks are having trouble printing the marriage licenses because they use a computer program that has not been updated yet with the new forms. The company that makes the computer program said it would be Tuesday at the latest before they could get the system updated.
But the Kentucky County Clerk's Association is telling clerks that shouldn't be a problem. Simply print out the old form and scratch out the words "bride" and "groom" and replace them with "first party" and "second party."
But same-sex couples were getting married in Louisville. Here are two stories from earlier today:
-Listen To Louisville’s First Legal Same-Sex Marriage
Update 5:10 p.m.: Reaction from Plaintiffs
It was a scene of elation Friday at the downtown offices of some of the lawyers behind Kentucky's successful challenge to the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
The question of whether same-sex couples could be married had been settled about 90 minutes before by the U.S. Supreme Court, attorneys and plaintiffs said the ruling was a long time coming.
Timothy Love and Larry Ysunza spent 35 years together. They said the long fight for the right to marry culminated in vindication.
“We’re going to see the end to a lot of very long engagements and I can’t tell you how happy we are,” Love said. “We never thought we’d see this day in our lifetime. Thirty-five years is a long time to wait to have your relationship recognized.”
The two later got their marriage license and plan to wed in October.
Michael Aldridge of the ACLU of Kentucky had tears in his eyes.
“As a gay man this affects me personally outside of my job,” Aldridge said. “I am overwhelmed with joy, I just want to go find my husband and hold him tight. I’m just so pleased that our relationship is recognized as just as valid as everyone else’s.”
Kim Franklin and Tammy Boyd were already married—but the Shelby County couple's union wasn't recognized officially in their home state.
“We can’t explain how excited we are, and how relieved we are, just things we shouldn’t have to go through because we lived every other moment of our life as a married couple. So now we don’t have to worry about that, it’s a huge, huge relief," said Franklin, who were joined at the news conference by their 23-year-old son, Sam Riley.
Riley said: "This is such a relief to me because now I know they're going to be happy."
Attorney Shannon Fauver noted that some advised against filing the lawsuit challenging the state's same-sex marriage ban. She said on Friday that she was glad she didn't listen to the skeptics.
Advocates and plaintiffs also noted that Kentucky doesn't have legal protections for LGBT people—that they can be married on one day, but fired from their jobs the next because of sexual orientation.
But for the six Kentucky couples who were plaintiffs in the lawsuit, what seemed to matter most Friday was that they could marry.
Gov. Steve Beshear ordered state agencies to begin recognizing same-sex marriage and to issue marriage licenses to those couples as the plaintiffs' news conference was concluding. When the attorneys and plaintiffs saw the statement, the group cheered.
Some of the couples and attorneys went directly to the county clerk's office.
There, the first same-sex marriages in Louisville would soon be held.
"We never thought we'd see it," Love had said earlier.
Two of the original plaintiffs, Gregory Bourke and Michael De Leon, went to Washington to be on site when the ruling was announced.
Bourke and De Leon were married in Canada in 2004 (see links below for more of their story), and on Friday, their attention turned to their family.
“Our next step is to petition the court to put both of our names on the children’s birth certificates," De Leon told WFPL's Ja'Nel Johnson. "We have two children, 16 and 17, and right now only one of us is recognized as the legal parent on their birth certificate and we’ve been parenting both children together. So, now in our case, Greg’s name can finally go on their birth’s certificates.”
—Joseph Lord and Henrietta Reily
Update 1:30 p.m.: Disagreement With Court Ruling
News of today's landmark Supreme Court decision drew all sorts of reactions from around the globe. Some people hugged, cried or rushed to the nearest clerk's office. Meanwhile, others expressed displeasure with the ruling from the country's top court.
Stacy Swarthout, 43, of Splendora, Texas, heard of the decision while in Louisville for a trade conference for young professionals.
Though she said the decision won't affect her life, she doesn’t agree with it. “Men and women were put on the earth to be with men and women not with one another," Swarthout said.
She believes marriage is a Biblical institution. “If people are born that way and they say they are born that way that’s between them and God. It’s not for me to judge. I just don’t agree with it.”
Swarthout's mother and her 17-year-old daughter agreed.
Meanwhile, Louisville resident Mark Lee, 43, cited the Bible and said legalizing same sex marriage sends the wrong message to people.
“The church I was raised in we just don’t believe in homosexuality. It’s man and a woman. Husband and wife.”
He added, “I’m just saying I don’t think it’s appropriate. I don’t think it’s right. In the Bible I read it’s not right. Bottom line.”
- WFPL Reporter Ja'Nel Johnson
Update 12:40 p.m.: Beshear's Full Statement
Here's Beshear's full statement:
“The fractured laws across the country concerning same-sex marriage had created an unsustainable and unbalanced legal environment, wherein citizens were treated differently depending on the state in which they resided. That situation was unfair, no matter which side of the debate you may support.
Kentuckians, and indeed all Americans, deserved a final determination of what the law in this country would be, and that is the reason we pursued an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Today’s opinion finally provides that clarity.
All Cabinets of the executive branch have been directed to immediately alter any policies necessary to implement the decision from the Supreme Court.
Effective today, Kentucky will recognize as valid all same-sex marriages performed in other states and in Kentucky. I have instructed the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives to provide revised marriage license forms to our county clerks for immediate use, beginning today. We will report additional expected policy changes in the coming days.”
Update 12:05 p.m.: Governor Issues Instructions to County Clerks
The Associated Press reports: Gov. Steve Beshear has told the state's county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples following a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Beshear sent a letter to all 120 county clerks telling them the Department of Libraries and Archives will send them a gender neutral form today along with instructions on how to use it. He told the clerks to consult with their county attorneys with specific questions, but said he knows they will respect the rule of law.
Update 11:45 a.m.: Inside the Clerk's Office
The phone in the Jefferson County Clerk's office is ringing off the hook. The question of the day: When can we get a marriage license? Right now, the clerk's office doesn't have an answer.
Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw doesn't make the law, she just enforces it. And in the immediate wake of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Holsclaw is awaiting a directive from Gov. Steve Beshear's office. "It's not personal," Holsclaw said. "It's just business."
The longtime marriage license form allows citizens to sign up as bride and groom. Now Holsclaw wonders whether she can white-out the words and replace them with the words man and man, woman and woman. Perhaps bridge and bride or groom and groom?
- WFPL Reporter Jacob Ryan
Update 11:40 a.m.: Kentucky Attorney General Weighs In
The Associated Press reports: Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway says the ruling makes it clear that "the government cannot pick and choose when it comes to issuing marriage licenses and the benefits they confer." He says he did his duty as attorney general in defending Kentucky's constitutional amendment against gay marriage, but declined to participate in the appeal because he agreed with a lower court ruling that the amendment was unconstitutional. He says it is time for Kentucky to move forward "because the good-paying jobs are going to states that are inclusive."
Update 10:36 a.m.: Waiting For Word
WFPL News' Jacob Ryan went to check on the Jefferson County Clerk's Office. He reports that it's quiet.
Deputy clerks in marriage licensing office say a lot of calls comig in.— jacob ryan (@jacobhryan) June 26, 2015
Update 10:34 a.m.: Details on the Decision
NPR has more details on the ruling: The justices had been asked to decide whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to a) license same-sex marriages and b) recognize such unions that were made in other states. The Fourteenth Amendment, we'll remind you, was ratified shortly after the Civil War. It has to do with U.S. citizenship – and with providing equal protection for all citizens. Before Friday's ruling, gay marriage had already been made legal in 37 states – by either legislative or voter action or by federal courts that overturned state' bans. You can follow NPR's live bloghere. Earlier: The Supreme Court ruled today that the Constitution requires states to issue and recognize marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to SCOTUS blog. The Obergefell v. Hodges decision has broad ramifications for Kentucky and same-sex marriage nationally; plaintiffs included people from Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Michigan. The majority opinion was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who cites the 14 Amendment as the basis of his ruling. It can be read below. Kentucky plaintiffs and attorneys are expected to discuss the decision at 11:30 a.m. We'll have coverage then. A rally is also planned for 5:30 p.m. Friday at Jefferson Square in downtown Louisville. We'll be there, too. Stay tuned. Here's a timeline of the Kentucky case: Kentucky instituted a same-sex marriage ban in 2004 through a constitutional amendment, which was approved by voters. In July 2013, Louisville residents Greg Bourke and Michael De Leon and others filed a lawsuit challenging the ban in the wake of the Supreme Court's historic Defense of Marriage Act ruling on federal limitations of same-sex marriage recognition. The men were married in 2004 in Canada, and their suit specifically asked the state to recognize their marriage. In February 2014 a federal judge in Louisville ordered Kentucky to recognize out-of-state same sex marriages. The judge later expanded the order to cover the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples following a second lawsuit. Gov. Steve Beshear chose to appeal the ruling after Attorney General Jack Conway declined to do so, and an appeals court in Cincinnati sided with Kentucky and three other states. It was the first time a federal court had affirmed a state ban. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments this spring. Here's the ruling: