Follow breaking news @lgbtqnation

Ky. couple challenges state’s ban on same-sex marriage

Friday, July 26, 2013

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Louisville couple on Friday challenged Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriages, saying the state isn’t treating them and other same-sex couples on equal footing with other married couples.

Gregory Bourke and Michael De Leon, who were married in Canada nine years ago, are asking U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn Ii to require Kentucky to recognize valid unions from other states and countries.

“There’s no reason why we should be second-class citizens,” De Leon said Friday afternoon. “We should be at the table with everybody else.”

Brett Barrouquere, AP
Michael De Leon (left) and Gregory Bourke.

The men are seeking an injunction to stop state and local officials from enforcing the ban written into the Kentucky constitution in 2004. The suit is the first such challenge in Kentucky since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The act had blocked married same-sex couples from receiving the same benefits as heterosexual spouses.

Bourke, a 55- year-old applications consultant at Humana, and Deleon, a 55-year-old database administrator at General Electric, were married in at Niagara Falls in Canada, in 2004. Both men said the recent decision by the Supreme Court proved to be the impetus to challenge Kentucky’s ban.

“We feel like victims of discrimination,” Bourke said. “That’s what this lawsuit is about, not being treated equally under the law.”

Challenges to same-sex marriage bans have been filed in recent weeks in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and New Mexico. The American Civil Liberties Union has said challenges are also expected in Virginia, Nevada, Hawaii and Michigan.

Kentucky changed its state constitution in 2004 to include the prohibition on same-sex marriage. The amendment reads: “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Kentucky” and “A marriage between members of the same sex which occurs in another jurisdiction shall be void in Kentucky.”

Officials at Attorney General Jack Conway’s office had not yet seen the lawsuit but planned to review it, said spokeswoman Allison Martin. Gov. Steve Beshear was waiting to receive a copy of the lawsuit to review it, spokeswoman Kerri Richardson said.

Martin Cothran, a spokesman for the Family Foundation of Kentucky, which backed the ban, said the two men have “a hard case to make.”

Cothran noted that voters passed the amendment in 2004 by an overwhelming margin.

“We would oppose any effort to change what Kentuckians decided on that,” Cothran said.

Dawn Elliott, an attorney for the men, said marriage would allow same-sex couples to protect their children if one partner lacks health insurance, and prevent children from being removed from their home if something happened to the biological or legally recognized parent.

De Leon is the father of an adopted 15-year-old boy and 14-year-old girl. Bourke has been designated a legal guardian for the children. They want Bourke listed as a parent to the children. Kentucky’s ban bars him from being listed as a parent.

“We could sort of simulate a marriage, you could simulate rights,” Bourke said.

De Leon noted the couple had to run a legal obstacle course to give them both legal rights to make decisions about the children.

“There are a lot of legal documents we would not have had to do if we were a married, heterosexual couple,” De Leon said.

Without a recognized marriage, Elliott said, the couple will face an inheritance tax at a higher rate than if their marriage was recognized by the state.

Bourke is no stranger to challenging restrictions on gays and lesbians. In February, Bourke started an online petition urging the United Way to denounce the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gays as Scouts or adult leaders. It targets United Way because the organization is a major financial contributor to Boy Scouts.

Bourke was an assistant scoutmaster for his adopted son’s Louisville Scout troop for several years until he was forced to resign last year after informing Scout leaders that he is gay. His role had included coordinating and supervising camping trips and helping boys achieve merit badges. His own 15-year-old son, Isaiah, is close to becoming an Eagle Scout, he said.

© 2013, Associated Press, All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Share this article with your friends and followers:

Archives: , ,

Filed under: Kentucky

19 more reader comments:

  1. Good for them….big question….why aren´t ALL gay couples banding together to challenge this?

    Posted on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 2:42pm
  2. Why can´t couple do this in Indiana? I´m tired of living in a Christian bigot theocracy

    Posted on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 2:45pm
  3. I am from Ky, and I love my home. I am hoping that one day soon they will abolish the ban on same sex marriage and realize there are more important causes to fight. I am with the person I love and want to spend my life with, because of stupid closed minded people, we are frowned upon as freaks of nature. What would they do if it were them or a loved one, double standards in this world is why we are so messed up!!!!!! I love you Tonya Ritschel, and someday you will be my wife!!!!!!!

    Posted on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 3:05pm
  4. @Marc Indiana is the new Kentucky.

    Posted on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 3:06pm
  5. As a Louisvillian (yes that is spelled correctly), I am overjoyed to see this and pray that Kentucky government finally gets their heads out of McConnell´s (aka McASSHAT) arse. Good for them to stand against Kentucky bigotry. We WILL have equal rights in Kentucky in spite of the bigots in our government!

    Posted on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 3:09pm
  6. I live in Kentucky near Louisville where these men are fighting for Equality. All the hatred coming out of this on the news channels on Facebook is ridiculous. Of course I am going all out voicing my opinion but you can´t win over everyone. Being called “filthy” is a price you pay for standing up for what´s right I guess. Closed minded idiots!

    Posted on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 3:19pm
  7. By what right does anybody have to tell you that you cannot enter into a contract between 2 or more consenting adults?

    We need to get over this power fetish we have in the west where we believe we can control everybody. Free people´s are the happiest and most productive on the whole.

    Enslaved people are unhappy and unproductive.

    Posted on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 4:17pm
  8. I´ll be happy when we can look back at this as a nation and see that it is a foolish as it was when equal rights did not include women and non-white people, so I won´t have to constantly see both sides fighting like children over what is clearly remediation of injustice.

    Posted on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 5:33pm
  9. i wanna be that couple in AZ!

    Posted on Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 4:27am
  10. Go for it and Good luck!!…:)
    Remember: We shall over come!!

    Posted on Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 4:31am
  11. The “Great Storm” has been brewing for years, and these idiots just don´t seem to get it. Love! Let the couples be free to marry if they want.

    Posted on Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 4:52am
  12. Hate this link!

    Posted on Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 6:08am
  13. And so it begins…..Yah Baby!!

    Posted on Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 6:10am
  14. Right on guys!!

    Posted on Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 7:46am
  15. It´s going to be a long hard battle, I hope there is a lot of support for this couple. Stand together for equality!

    Posted on Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 2:55pm
  16. Now the “Court” has spoken NOT as hard…

    Posted on Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 3:07pm
  17. As a Louisville native and a lesbian I am overjoyed that a couple has chosen to stand against the evil and bigotry that is Kentucky government. I pray that others in Kentucky follow so that we can finally rid our great Derby city of the hatred of McASSHAT!!

    Posted on Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 4:22pm
  18. And if people in all the states that have anti same sex marriage laws do the same, once it gets to the Supreme Court ……. WE WILL WIN!

    Posted on Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 7:46pm
  19. So proud of Greg Bourke and Michael De Leon! Stand strong Guys! Kentucky Proud!

    Posted on Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 8:41pm