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Lawsuit challenges Kentucky same-sex marriage ban

The Kentucky Equality Federation [advocacy website] has filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] to overturn Kentucky's amendment [text] banning same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The constitutional amendment, passed in 2004 with approval of 75 percent of voters, allows only a marriage between man and woman to be valid or recognized. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, argues that this amendment was passed in violation of the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the US Constitution. In addition, the organization claims that such violations are prohibited by Section 2 [text] of Kentucky's Constitution, guaranteeing freedom from "absolute and arbitrary power."

The heated debate over same-sex marriage is one of the most polarizing issues currently facing the American legal community. Last week an Ohio judge issued an order allowing a Cincinnati man to be listed as "spouse" [JURIST report] on the death certificate of his late husband. In August the US Treasury Department [official website] announced that the Treasury, along with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) [official website] will now recognize the marriages of all same-sex couples for federal tax purposes [JURIST report]. Also in August a judge for the Second Judicial District Court of New Mexico [official website] ordered [JURIST report] district court clerks to begin granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The week before, the Texas Supreme Court [official website] announced that it will consider whether the state has jurisdiction [JURIST report] to grant divorces to two same-sex couples who were legally married in Massachusetts. In July the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit [JURIST report] in Pennsylvania on behalf of 21 residents who wish to marry their same-sex partner or who are seeking recognition by the state of their out-of-state same-sex marriage. In March Vermont's House of Representatives approved a bill [JURIST report] that would require out-of-state employers to provide the same health care coverage to same-sex couples as employees with an opposite-sex spouse. Also in March the Colorado House of Representative voted in favor of a bill [JURIST report] that would legalize civil unions in the state.

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