Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Reject Ky. marriage amendment


Kentucky should reject a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, and denies legal status for unions between unmarried people. Like Ohio's Issue 1, which we also oppose, such an amendment could inhibit the state's ability to draw new business and affect employee benefits. What's more, it's just not necessary.

Kentucky has more pressing issues about which to worry, such as revising the state's antiquated tax structure and attracting 21st-century jobs with a better-educated work force.

The state already bans gay marriage under a law patterned after the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act. That law does not recognize same-sex marriages and does not permit states to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. So a same-sex couple that married in Boston can't expect their marriage to be honored in Burlington or Bowling Green.

But Amendment 1 goes further. Its ballot language not only asks voters to define marriage as between a man and a woman, it adds the clause "and that a legal status identical to or similar to marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized."

That's troubling, because it could have an impact on people who choose to live together, but choose not to marry, for any number of reasons, and whose relationships are considered legal under federal law.

As in Ohio's Issue 1, Kentucky's Amendment 1 could expose the state to potential litigation over the legal status of all sorts of relationships. Couples in nontraditional families could be prohibited from being able to give each other legal control over their health care, pension benefits or other assets.

Various polls show overwhelming support for the amendment - at more than 70 percent - but we hope voters don't make that wrongheaded choice.

Adding a redundant and divisive amendment to define marriage isn't necessary. Kentucky should concentrate on more pressing matters.

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