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Kentucky judge upholds state's constitutional marriage ban

Kentucky judge upholds state's constitutional marriage ban

A judge upheld Kentucky's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages on Thursday. As required by the state constitution, the amendment both dealt with a single subject and properly informed voters what it meant, Franklin County circuit judge Roger Crittenden wrote in a 15-page opinion dismissing the case. "The need, wisdom, and economic and social desirability of the amendment are not before this court," Crittenden wrote. "It would be overstepping judicial bounds to pass judgment on the value and worthiness of the legislative purpose." Kentuckians voted nearly 3-1 in favor of the amendment in fall 2004. There were 1.22 million votes in favor to 417,097 against the amendment. Kentucky was one of 11 states in fall 2004 that changed their constitutions to outlaw same-sex marriages. The amendment defined marriage in Kentucky as being something limited to one man and one woman. It also prohibited unmarried people from ever obtaining "legal status identical to or similar to marriage." Same-sex marriages were already prohibited under state law, but amendment advocates claimed the measure was needed to prevent such marriages from eventually being legalized. Opponents maintained the amendment, as written, would reach much further than a ban only on same-sex marriages. They maintained domestic partnerships, and other agreements between straight and gay couples could also be at risk. Kent Ostrander, executive director of the Lexington-based Family Foundation, said he wasn't surprised by Crittenden's ruling. Amendment proponents were confident it was procedurally correct, Ostrander said. "The Kentucky electorate overwhelmingly wanted to protect marriage from any kind of redefinition, and so they amended the Kentucky constitution," Ostrander said in a telephone interview. Gov. Ernie Fletcher also promoted the amendment leading up to the November general election. Crittenden's ruling was "consistent with the timeless understanding of marriage and the clearly expressed will of the people of the commonwealth," Fletcher spokeswoman Jodi Whitaker said. The Reverend Albert Pennybacker, a Protestant minister who was one of the plaintiffs, said he "absolutely" opposed the amendment. He wanted a judicial ruling on its constitutionality because he thought the amendment was not straightforward and dealt with "double provisions," Pennybacker said. Now, society must find a way of being accepting toward each other, he added. "It's disappointing that we have not found a way to treat fairly all of the people in our communities and all the variety of life that they reflect. I think the amendment is rooted in a kind of religiosity that's often judgmental and mean-spirited." (AP)

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