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Kentucky wants marriage lawsuit tossed out of federal court

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Commonwealth of Kentucky has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit that challenges the state’s ban on same-gender marriage.

Gregory Bourke and Michael De Leon, who were married in Canada almost a decade ago, filed a lawsuit in July in federal court in Louisville. They want the state to recognize legal marriages from other states or countries so that they will be given the same rights and benefits of opposite-gender couples who wed.

Clay Barkley, assistant attorney general for Kentucky, on Tuesday asked U.S. District Court Judge John G. Heyburn II to dismiss the lawsuit, contending that the couple lack standing to challenge the law. The Attorney General’s office noted that an overturning of the law would give married same-gender couples the same rights and benefits of married opposite-gender couples.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional, gay and lesbian couples have filed lawsuits in some of the states where same-gender marriages aren’t allowed. Pennsylvania and New Mexico are prime targets for marriage equality advocates, and lawsuits have already been filed in those states. Similar cases have been filed in other states, including Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan and West Virginia.

The Kentucky couple said the Supreme Court ruling motivated their lawsuit. Both men are 55 years old and were married more than nine years ago in Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada. De Leon adopted two children, and Bourke is a legal guardian to the teenage boy and girl. The couple said Kentucky’s law prevents them both from being listed as parents, another example of how the law discriminates against married gay and lesbian couples.