Story: Greg Stotlemyer
Within hours of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last Friday that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to wed, county clerks, as directed by Governor Steve Beshear, began issuing marriage licenses. In a statement the governor indicated more adjustments to state policy would be coming, and while he wasn’t specific, advocates say much still needs to change in areas like discrimination on the job and in housing. As for Friday’s ruling, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Kentucky, Michael Aldridge, says impact is profound.
“There is just a whole litany of legal benefits that come along with according the dignity of marriage,” says Aldridge.
He says adoption of a partner’s child and the ability to receive death benefits when a spouse dies are among the many examples. Laws banning same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee were at the heart of the Supreme Court case. The historic decision comes 11 years after Kentucky voters amended the state’s constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. Aldridge remembers how he felt on election night 2004.
“It was a really brutal campaign and I don’t think any of us in that moment thought that we would have marriage equality within the decade,” he says. “So, the timeline has exceeded everyone’s expectations. It’s just amazing that the climate and the environment in this country has changed so rapidly.”