On February 12, 2014, in a major victory for same-sex couples across the Commonwealth, a federal judge struck down Kentucky’s ban on recognizing same-sex unions performed in states where it is legal. Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia legally recognize same-sex marriages. On February 13, 2014, another federal judge ruled that Virginia’s statutory ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn found that Kentucky’s prohibition violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law by treating gays and lesbians “differently in a way that demeans them.” Heyburn recognized that, while “religious beliefs … are vital to the fabric of society … assigning a religious or traditional rationale for a law does not make it constitutional when that law discriminates against a class of people without other reasons.”
While this is certainly a major step in the right direction, Kentucky does not currently provide any protections against employment discrimination, on the state level, for the LGBT community. However, Sen. Morgan McGarvey of Louisville recently announced his intention to introduce a state wide Fairness Bill during the 2014 General Assembly that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Currently, six cities in Kentucky have Fairness Ordinances banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.