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Reversal: Ky. lawmakers send marriage amendment to voters

FRANKFORT, Ky. (BP)–Kentucky citizens will be voting on a constitutional marriage amendment this fall thanks to a dramatic reversal by the state’s House Democrats.

The Kentucky Senate passed a state constitutional marriage amendment by a vote of 33-5 April 13, one day after the House passed an amendment by a vote of 85-11. Both votes came on the final two days of the legislative session. The amendment would protect traditional marriage by banning same-sex “marriage” and other forms of non-traditional marriage.

Kentucky is the fourth state to send a marriage amendment to voters, following Georgia, Mississippi and Utah.

“Basically, the will of the people presided over the will of some liberal components of the Democratic caucus,” Kent Ostrander, executive director of the Family Foundation of Kentucky, told Baptist Press.

Just a few weeks ago, the amendment appeared doomed.

On March 26 House Republicans staged a walkout during debate on a marriage amendment after Democrats, who control the House, refused to consider GOP changes. Republicans charged that Democrats had sabotaged the amendment by adding language limiting the judiciary’s power. The new language had nothing to do with marriage and would be struck down before reaching voters, Republicans charged. With Republicans out of the room, the amendment failed.

Pressured by their constituents, House Democrats decided to vote again on the bill April 12, this time with the additional language removed.

“I’ve gotten 500 to 600 messages on this,” Democratic Rep. Rob Wilkey said, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The Family Foundation, a Lexington-based pro-family group, helped lead the effort to pressure legislators to reconsider the amendment. Ostrander said he encouraged pro-family citizens to write and e-mail their representative.

“Our understanding is that in recent history there has never been an outcry and a communication with the legislature on any issue like this one,” he said.

One Democrat, Paul Bather of Louisville, predicted that the amendment would be struck down in federal court.

The Herald-Leader reported that House Democrats met some two hours behind closed doors before the vote.

“I’m doing this for my church people, my Christians and all the people in my district,” Democratic Rep. Hubie Collins, said, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

In addition to banning non-traditional forms of marriage, the amendment apparently would also ban Vermont-type civil unions. The amendment states: “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Kentucky. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.”

Ostrander said the goal was not to ban same-sex “marriage” but to “protect marriage from any kind of redefinition.” He said that traditional marriage, not same-sex “marriage,” offers children true diversity.

“We have not been out to target gays and lesbians,” he said. “… They offer the children sameness, and it reduces the word diversity simply to a campaign slogan designed to persuade adults to tolerate their practices. We believe a child needs to have every opportunity to have both a mother and a father, which we regard as true diversity.”

Kentucky already has a law banning same-sex “marriage,” although the issue is not addressed in the state constitution. An amendment would provide a protection against state court rulings.

A marriage amendment in Massachusetts would have prevented that state’s high court from issuing is controversial ruling legalizing same-sex “marriage.”
For more information about the debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit

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  • Michael Foust