Kentucky’s Democratic governor offered convoluted reasoning to argue that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage did not discriminate against gay and lesbian couples.
Attorneys for Gov. Steve Beshear filed a brief last week with the U.S. Supreme arguing that Kentucky’s law was not discriminatory because straight people – not just LGBT people – could not marry a person of the same sex.
“Kentucky’s marriage laws treat homosexuals and heterosexuals the same and are facially neutral,” the lawyers argued in the filing. “Men and women, whether heterosexual or homosexual, are free to marry persons of the opposite sex under Kentucky law, and men and women, whether heterosexual or homosexual, cannot marry persons of the same sex under Kentucky law.”
The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that the argument was similar to one offered by the state of Virginia nearly 50 years ago defending its prohibition against interracial marriage.
That state’s lawyers argued at the time that the ban, which was also effective in Kentucky and 14 other states, was not discriminatory because white people could not marry black people – and vice versa.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected that argument in the historic 1967 Loving v. Virginia case that struck down bans on interracial marriage.
A lawyer for the six gay couples challenging Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage called Beshear’s argument “absurd.”
“Kentucky is in essence saying that our clients are precluded from marriage entirely, unless they change their sexual orientation (or simply marry someone to whom they are not attracted),” said attorney Dan Cannon.
“It’s akin to passing a law banning all Catholic churches within city limits, and then saying it’s not discriminatory because you can still go to a Baptist church,” he added.
The case will be argued before the Supreme Court on April 28.