Kentucky house Democrats, voting by secret ballot in a closed-door meeting, decided on Monday to stifle a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages.
Democrats who were disappointed by the vote said the measure was not yet dead as the general assembly began its last full week. "Suffice it to say, I'm not done," said Rep. J.R. Gray of Benton, a supporter of efforts to amend Kentucky's constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Gray wouldn't reveal his strategy. Options include asking the 64-member Democratic caucus to reconsider its decision or presenting a "discharge petition " to pull the bill out of committee.
The proposed amendment easily passed the Republican-led senate. Democrats control enough of the house to stifle politically sensitive legislation, provided the Democratic caucus holds together. Some house Democrats said the constitutional change is unnecessary because Kentucky law already bans same-sex marriages.
Rep. Kathy Stein said she's confident the statute outlawing same-sex marriages would withstand any legal challenge. "I don't think that we need to be making public policy based upon an imaginary lawsuit and how a court is going to rule," Stein said. "If we start doing that, we're in real trouble."
Last week gay rights supporters singing "Chapel of Love" rallied against the proposed amendment and other antigay legislation. Andrea Hildebran, executive director of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, hailed the decision by house Democrats to squelch the proposed amendment. "We're glad that Democrats decided that dealing with the real issues of this state, like the economy and education and health care, are more important than attacking" gay couples, she said.