Tags: Gay Marriage | Mitch McConnell | gay | marriage | Kentucky | court | ruling

McConnell Rips Federal Court Ruling on Ky. Gay Marriages

Image: McConnell Rips Federal Court Ruling on Ky. Gay Marriages

By Drew MacKenzie   |   Thursday, 13 Feb 2014 11:03 AM

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has denounced a federal court ruling that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

McConnell criticized the decision by U.S. District Judge John Heyburn to strike down a 1998 Kentucky law and a 2004 amendment to the state's constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

Calling himself a "traditionalist," McConnell said, "I will continue to support traditional marriage and fight to make sure that Kentuckians define marriage as we see fit, and never have a definition forced on us by interests outside of our state."

But the Kentucky Republican came under fire from tea party activist Matt Bevin, who is challenging him in the GOP primary. Bevin noted that Heyburn was appointed by former President George W. Bush on McConnell's recommendation.

Saying it was "no surprise" that McConnell helped Heyburn's promotion to the federal court, Bevin added, "I'm deeply disappointed in Judge Heyburn's decision to overturn Kentucky's right to determine the definition of marriage within its own borders."

Heyburn made his ruling based on recent decisions that have struck down bans in other states, but also to older rulings on a person's right to marry. Although the case means that Kentucky must recognize out-of-state marriages for official purposes, his decision doesn't require the state to perform same-sex marriages.

McConnell, who was one of two GOP leaders in the Senate to help prevent Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's filibuster on the clean debt-ceiling bill on Wednesday, is facing a tough challenge to keep his seat from the likely Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.

In November, Grimes threw her support behind gay marriage while pointing out that she had been happily married to her husband for seven years. "I want to make sure all individuals have that same opportunity," she told the Herald-Leader.

Meanwhile in Texas, two same-sex couples asked a federal judge in San Antonio for a  preliminary injunction against the state's constitutional ban on gay marriages for one of the couples to marry in Texas while the other couple can have their out-of-state wedding recognized in the Lone Star State, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Assistant Texas Solicitor General Mike Murphy, who works for Attorney General Greg Abbott, the leading Republican candidate for governor, said the case would be circumventing the will of Texas residents, who voted by a 3-to-1 margin in 2005 to approve the amendment banning same-sex marriages.

"An out-of-state marriage is not terminated when they move to Texas," Murphy said of gay and lesbian unions. "It's simply not recognized."

Lawyer Mark Phariss and physician's assistant Victor Holmes, who've been domestic partners for 16 years, brought the lawsuit, along with Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, who married in Massachusetts in 2009 and have a young son.

Phariss said, "The U.S. Constitution trumps anything that Texas does. What stings is that they use a local action here to try to suggest that that would somehow or another trump our constitutional rights."

There are similar cases making their way through the courts in 23 other states that do not recognize gay marriage, including lawsuits in Oklahoma, Utah, Ohio, and Virginia.

In Nevada, both GOP lieutenant governor candidates, Sue Lowden and Mark Hutchison, said Wednesday they agree with the decision by Nevada's governor and attorney general to drop the state's legal defense of its law banning gay marriage, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
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