Gay marriage ruling hailed; still hurdles in Kentucky
LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- Two landmark rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court have same sex couples nationwide celebrating the largest step thus far towards marriage equality.
But in Kentucky, one of 29 states with a constitutional ban on gay marriage, there are still barriers in place. Supporters of gay marriage also point to large questions that loom about how the high court's rulings will affect same sex couples living in this state.
"We did try to make it a normal day but by 10 o'clock we knew it was anything but normal," said Wayne Schwertley, a gay marriage supporter.
Schwertley and his partner, Michael Sebourn, have been together for 17 years. After forming a civil union in Germany in 2006, they were married this year in Iowa, a state that recognizes same sex marriage.
Schwertley expressed some sadness about Kentucky's laws but today was about celebrating a step forward for him and his partner.
"It's not ok in the end, but today was a huge step forward in that equal protection means equal protection," Schwertley said.
Under Wednesday's ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, Wayne and Michael's marriage in Iowa would qualify them for federal benefits even though they live in Kentucky.
Same is true for Patti Echsner and her partner, Bette Niemi. Both of them are attorneys who have been together for more than 20 years. They were married in March in New York following a trip to watch the University of Cardinals men's basketball team win the Big East tournament.
"It's just a really special day for everyone," said Patti Echsner in an interview with WDRB News.
Maybe the day was not so special for opponents of gay marriage. Rev. Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary acknowledges the rulings are a huge cultural shift - but he says in the wrong direction.
"So we need to recognize that America faces a great moral divide between the people who think (gay marriage) is a wonderful new thing, and those who think it's a great subversion of marriage itself," Mohler told WDRB News.
Mohler says the court's two rulings on gay marriage still doesn't qualify it as marriage in the tradition sense.
"I believe that marriage, as God gave it to us, is the union of a man and a woman. And not only what is right, but what leads to the greatest human flourishing. And so, I greatly regret what I believe will be the consequences of this decision," Mohler said.
Sebourn says he doesn't feel like religious beliefs and the legality of gay marriage are mutually exclusive.
"Well, the people who think this goes against their religion values, I respect that. But that has no place government and no place in civil marriage," Sebourn said.
Eschner said: "God is about love and if you believe that, you have to believe God loves all people."
There are no regrets at the home Mark England, who played host to Eschner, Swertley, Sebourn and a half dozen other couples. Just elation and questions about what hurdles still exist in their state.
"The glass is very much half full and we have the opportunity to ask those questions. And we have the opportunity to ask those questions and move towards equality," Swertley said.
Both supporters and opponents of gay marriage acknowledge there will likely be more litigation filed as a result of Wednesday's rulings.