Whether same-sex couples can be married in Kentucky will be a matter to be settled in the future after a pair of Supreme Court rulings issued Wednesday, leaders on both sides of the argument say.
Chris Hartman, director of the Kentucky Fairness Campaign, says the ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act is a reason for celebration from his cause’s supporters.
“This is a truly historic day,” he said soon after the rulings were read. “DOMA was the last federal law of inequality against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender American and it was stricken down today by the highest court in the land, signaling to all Americans that we are truly equal under the law. And this day will not be forgotten.”
But the ruling on California’s Proposition 8 means that gay marriage supporters in states such as Kentucky, where it isn’t allowed, will have work to do—perhaps far into the future.
”The same-gender marriage issue at the state level in all of the U.S. where the same rights aren’t extended will be played out probably for decades, I would imagine,” Hartman said. “If same-gender marriage comes to all states, ultimately it may not do so for some two dozen years.”
Kentucky’s Fairness Campaign will remain focused on anti-discrimination issues for the time being, Hartman said.
Meanwhile, gay marriage opponents noted the same.
“Obviously, this is a big cultural issue and what the court has decided to do at this point is to simply let the debate take place, which is probably the best legal situation to be in right now,” said Martin Cothran, a senior policy analyst for the Kentucky-based Family Foundation.
Cothran said he’s not entirely convinced that the reasoning is sound in the DOMA opinion.
“In the case of the DOMA case, Justice Kennedy’s reasoning is still not entirely clear to us, but it does mean that Kentucky’s—as far as we can tell—marriage amendment stays intact.”
“I think that right now we have a fluid situation on the Supreme Court, and basically it comes down to how Anthony Kennedy feels that day,” Cothran said. “Of course, a lot depends on what the composition of the court turns out to be in the next few years.
Albert Mohler, president of the Louisville-based Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a gay marriage opponent, Tweeted this:
Make no mistake: Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion in the DOMA case takes the entire nation right to the brink of legal same-sex marriage,.— albertmohler (@albertmohler) June 26, 2013
And Cothran too predicted that the issue of gay marriage will again be raised in Kentucky, though, like Hartman, he noted that it may be a while.
He added: “But Kentucky is a very conservative state and we don’t think that that’s going to happen.”
On that note, Hartman agreed to a point—that public opinion doesn’t appear to be on his cause’s side at the moment. Opinion is stronger on discrimination issues, he added.
“It’s clear that Kentuckians are willing to move forward on fairness, but not clear that they’re reading to move forward on same-gender marriage yet,” Hartman said.
The Fairness Campaign is hosting a rally this afternoon in Louisville. WFPL’s Gabe Bullard is covering it and Tweeting.
In a statement, ACLU of Kentucky director Michael Aldridge said:“Today is a great day for equality and the beginning of the end of official discrimination against LGBT people. It is time for our state laws to follow suit so that all Kentuckians have equal protection.”