Speed Read: Victory in Kentucky
VICTORY IN KENTUCKY: A federal judge in Louisville, Kentucky, ruled Wednesday that the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying violates their rights to equal protection. Judge John Heyburn (a nominee of President George H.W. Bush recommended by U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell) said the ban violates the couples’ rights to equal protection of the law. He said the court would set a hearing “in the near future to discuss the appropriate form of relief and the timing of its effect.”
CHALLENGES FILED IN TWO MORE STATES: Lawsuits challenging statewide bans on allowing same-sex couples to marry were filed Wednesday in two more states –Missouri and Louisiana. The ACLU of Missouri filed a lawsuit in state court in Kansas City Wednesday to challenge the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. The lawsuit, Barrier v. Missouri, represents eight same-sex couples, each of whom has married in another state “but are treated as legal strangers in their home state,” says the lawsuit. The lawsuit in Louisiana, Forum for Equality Louisiana v. Barfield, was filed in federal court and includes the statewide LGBT group and four same-sex couples as plaintiffs.
TEXAS REQUEST HEARD: U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia heard oral arguments for two hours Wednesday in San Antonio in a lawsuit challenging the Texas ban on same-sex couples marrying. Attorneys Wednesday argued for a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the ban. The lawsuit is Phariss v. Texas.
KANSAS HOUSE CLEARS BAN: As expected the Kansas House on Wednesday gave final approval to a bill to give a broad right to discriminate against same-sex couples to any individual or business who claims a religious belief in conflict with the right of same-sex couples to marry. The final vote was 72 to 49. The bill now goes to the state senate, where there are 32 Republicans and 8 Democrats. The Kansas City Star said some legislators who support the measure say it is not discriminatory because it is written in such a way that someone could also refuse services to a straight couple based on religious beliefs.
INDIANA SENATE TODAY: The Indianapolis Star reported yesterday that its survey of senators indicates there is “little to no chance” of the senate restoring to a proposed marriage ban bill language that would also ban civil unions and domestic partnerships. But the survey got definitive responses from only 22 of the 50 senators: 16 would oppose adding back the civil union/domestic partnership ban; six would vote for it. The Indiana Senate is expected to vote today on the proposed constitutional ban. If it approves the bill passed by the House last month, then the legislature will have to vote again on the measure during the next legislative session, delaying a ballot vote until 2016.
SOCHI PROTEST PARK: The Russian park designated for political demonstrations during the Winter Olympics is essentially empty, reported the Boston Globe Wednesday. Globe reporter David Filipov said he found only one woman staging a pro-Putin demonstration, but a city official and “half-dozen men in dark jackets” showed up, “listening in on conversations and writing down notes,” and taking pictures of the news crew. The official said she grants permits and that only one other person had been granted a permit to protest in the park. A third protest applicant was turned down because he expected more than 100 people to attend his pro-environment protest. A Sochi attorney told Filipov that most potential protesters were already “behind bars on what he called trumped-up charges.” The park is located ten miles away from the Olympic village in Sochi, under a noisy highway.