Activists rally against Kentucky's proposed marriage ban
January 23 2004 1:00 AM ET
Proponents of equal rights for gay and lesbian couples rallied Wednesday against a proposal to amend Kentucky's constitution to outlaw same-sex marriages. About 30 people, most of them holding signs that read "Anti-marriage amendments hurt my family," filled the capitol rotunda in Frankfort, Ky. "They do all the work that everybody else does in this state to carry on as citizens and to be a part of their communities, but they're denied the right to be recognized as families," said Andrea Hildebran, executive director of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance. A house proposal sponsored by Rep. J.R. Gray (D-Benton) would have Kentucky voters decide whether to amend the state's constitution to specifically outlaw marriages between people of the same sex. The state constitution doesn't currently address same-sex marriages. Gray has a separate measure that would ask Congress to advance a similar amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Meanwhile, the Kentucky Fairness Alliance endorsed a separate "fairness" measure that would make it illegal to discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The rally came a day after President Bush used his State of the Union address to show support for a U.S. constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman. Gray's proposal, opponents said, would legalize discrimination against a part of society and permanently embed it in the state's constitution. But same-sex couples aren't like mainstream families and are immoral, Gray responded. "What they're doing is morally wrong," Gray said. "I think it's contrary to the teachings of the Bible, and I think it's contrary to the ideals of the overwhelming majority of the people in the country." A constitutional amendment limiting marriage to a man and woman doesn't discriminate against gays and lesbians, Gray said. Rather, it's an attempt to define what "probably 90% of the country" views as marriage, he said.
Rep. Kathy Stein (D-Lexington) said the amendment proposal is "bigoted legislation." She and Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D-Louisville) are sponsoring a proposal making it illegal to discriminate against gays, lesbians, and transgendered people. Many state lawmakers may not be ready to support a "fairness" bill for gays and lesbians, however, Stein said. "There's no excuse why fairness cannot be passed," Stein said. "Other than the fact that, unfortunately, a number of my colleagues...are not ready for this because they are afraid to think about it."