Sunday, March 9, 2014

Civil Rights Update: The elephant in the governor's office

In case you're not from my state, or if you are and aren't very politically involved, there's currently a fracas going on in Frankfort (no, not Germany, pay attention). Kentucky has a constitutional state ban on same-sex marriages. However, last week the Kentucky state attorney general Jack Conway stated that he wouldn't defend the state ban in court. 

This came only a week after a federal judge ordered Kentucky to recognize same sex marriages from other states or countries, which (for the unmarried or uninformed) would grant legally married same sex couples the same state benefits (hospital visitation, filing joint state tax returns, etc) that opposite sex couples enjoy. 

Let's not gloss over the fact that last June the Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA) was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, allowing all legally married same sex couples the federal benefits that other couples already had (such as filing joint federal taxes). 

(To my readers from foreign countries or those too young to pay taxes, yes, the American tax code is exceedingly complicated. We all hate it, but for the life of us can't seem to agree on how to fix it. That's a post for another day.)

Indeed, it seems like the tide is turning toward nationwide acceptance of same-sex marriage in America. But leave it to Kentucky politicians to make our state look bigoted and backwater- last week Kentucky's governor Steve Beshear said he would appeal the ruling of the federal judge in an effort to deny state benefits to same sex couples, as well as hire an attorney to defend the ban if Jack Conway wouldn't. 

The next day, Beshear showed up at a rally for civil rights in the state capitol. 

Beshear denied that personal politics played a role in his decision. 
Nope. Not at all. 

Okay, Steve. If making yourself look good in front of the conservatives in Frankfort is more important that the basic civil rights of human beings (many of whom are your constituents), you had this coming. 

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