Kentucky’s Appeal of Recognition of Legal Same Sex Marriage Decision.
Humans Merely Breeding Stock? Say it isn’t so!
National and local media are reporting on the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s appeal of the February decision of District Court Judge John G Heyburn, II requiring the Commonwealth to recognize legal same-sex marriages performed in other states. The commentary available to me so far highlights a Commonwealth position that Kentucky has a legitimate interest in encouraging procreation to support long-term economic stability through stable birth rates. While that may be true of hog-breeding, I find the concept that the licensing of marriage for people of any sex be leashed to economic development to be outrageously offensive. I hope that a full reading of the brief will show that a misunderstanding of the text of the Appeal has occurred. After all, the appeal has our Governor’s name on it.
I have not yet read the brief in detail. The Courier-Journal gives a link to a site where the document can be read on-line, but I found a careful reading from the site to be difficult and it required me to give personal information to download the document. For my benefit and yours, I downloaded the 39 page brief from the Federal Court’s own website, along with the first of what is likely to be many Amicus briefs for or against. When I get an chance, I will comment more fully. Please feel free to do the same in the reply section below.
In the meantime, gay and lesbian healthcare workers in Kentucky are still being discriminated against at University Hospital at the same time we expect such employees not to discriminate against their patients!
[Addendum: I had a chance to read through the appeal in its entirety. Alas, a misunderstanding is not possible. The concept of humans as breeding stock is offered as the “legitimate state interest” that allows Kentucky to treat one group of citizens differently than another and therefore not to be in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. There is more, but “natural procreation” is the core of it. If I can muster the stomach for it, I will outline the arguments later.]
What I fail to grasp, and what is not addressed in Kentucky’s appeal, is how refusing to recognize legal out-of-state marriages is going to increase the number of child worker-bees and improve the economy as argued. When our Kentucky legislators wrote these laws, did they actually believe that if denied the privileges of marriage, that same-sex Kentucky partners would otherwise dutifully engage in “natural procreation” with members of the opposite sex? Many children arise from same-sex marriages. Are we meant to assume that because “unnatural” artificial or surrogate methods are also often used in support of conception by same-sex partners, that their non-adopted children don’t count? After a lot of blather about state’s rights and judicial activism, the appeal claims that the State’s action is “rationally based and free from invidious discrimination.” We’ve heard that argument before. I don’t buy it for a moment. We know it for what it is. I am ashamed for Kentucky.
Peter Hasselbacher, MD
Emeritus Professor of Medicine, UofL
May 9, 2014
Case 14-5291 Document #21: Appeal of Judge Heyburn’s decision.
Case 14-5291 Document #26: Motion to file Amicus Brief from North Carolina Values Coalition and Liberty, Life, and Law Foundation