Kentucky Marriage Amendment (2004)

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The Kentucky Marriage Amendment was on the November 2004 ballot in Kentucky as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure defined marriage as being between one man and one woman, and declared any legal status identical to or similar to marriage for unmarried individuals as invalid.[1] It was overturned almost 10 years later.[2]


On July 1, 2014, Judge John Heyburn of the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky found the amendment violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by treating same-sex couples differently than straight couples. He also pointed to the fact that every federal court case regarding same-sex marriage bans has found them unconstitutional. Heyburn said of this issue,

Those opposed by and large simply believe that the state has the right to adopt a particular religious or traditional view of marriage regardless of how it may affect gay and lesbian persons. But, as this Court has respectfully explained, in America even sincere and long-held religious views do not trump the constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted. [...]

Sometimes, by upholding equal rights for a few, courts necessarily must require others to forebear some prior conduct or restrain some personal instinct. Here, that would not seem to be the case. Assuring equal protection for same-sex couples does not diminish the freedom of others to any degree.[3][4]

Judge John Heyburn

Heyburn stayed the pending an appeal to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati decides multiple same-sex marriage cases from Kentucky and three other states. The oral arguments are scheduled to begin in that court on August 6, 2014.[5]

This was not Heyburn's first decision regarding same-sex marriage in Kentucky. In February 2014, he struck a ban on recognizing same-sex marriages from outside of Kentucky. He placed a stay on that ruling, at the time.[2][5]

Election results

Kentucky Marriage Amendment
OverturnedotOverturned Case:Love, et al. v. Beshear CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:13-CV-750-H
Yes 1,222,125 74.6%

Text on ballot

The text on the ballot said:

"Are you in favor of amending the Kentucky Constitution to provide that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be a marriage in Kentucky, and that a legal status identical to or similar to marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized?"

Financing the campaign

A total of $724,234 was spent on both sides of the campaign, with $201,370 on the pro-side and $522,864 on the anti-side.

The major donors to the "yes" vote side were:

  • Vote Yes for Marriage Committee, $135,493.
  • Yes for Traditional Marriage, $41,308.

The committee supporting the "no" side, Kentucky Families for Fairness, had 791 donors. The major donors were:

  • National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, $73,000.
  • Carla Wallace, $43,754.
  • Stinson-Lewis-Stinson Pride Foundation, $40,000.
  • Fairness Campaign, $17,000.[6]

Related measures

Voters in 30 states have approved legislatively-referred constitutional amendments or initiated constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriages at the ballot box. The first constitutional prohibition was in 1998, and the latest one occurred in May 2012. Most of these amendments define marriage along the lines of a "union of one male and one female."


The following constitutional bans were approved by voters, but later overturned by courts:


Cases overturning the following bans have been appealed to higher courts and are currently stayed:

Note: Same-sex marriage is legal in St. Louis County and the state recognizes same-sex marriages.


The following constitutional bans were approved by voters and have been upheld or not overturned by courts:


The following constitutional bans were defeated by voters:

Note: Arizonans defeated a measure in 2006, but approved one in 2008, which has been overturned.

See also

Suggest a link

External links