Goshen daughter of two mothers rallies for marriage equality outside Supreme Court

04/28/2015 10:00 PM

Plaintiffs challenging Kentucky’s constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage weren’t the only representatives from the Bluegrass in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

Goshen native Kinsey Morrison, an 18-year-old freshman at Stanford University, spoke at the Unite for Marriage rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court, where justices heard arguments in what could become a landmark decision on same-sex marriage.

Six couples are challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, and the high court is hearing cases from Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Michigan. Justices are expected to rule in June, either reaffirming state laws denying marriage for homosexual couples or striking them down.

“I am angry that every day people use my own religion that I love so dearly to justify hatred and discrimination,” Morrison said in her nearly seven-minute speech, mere feet from another rally supporting present laws against same-sex marriage.

“I am angry that last week my Christian friend who lives in eastern Kentucky was beaten brutally in a parking lot by four fellows college students when they found out that he’s gay. And most of all, I am sad that even though much has changed since my moms were in college, too much has not.”

Morrison and her two younger sisters have been raised by Karen and Audrey Morrison, a couple of more than 20 years. Karen Morrison is their biological mother, and Audrey Morrison adopted them through second-parent adoption. The pair is not involved in the Supreme Court case.

Giving a pro-same-sex marriage speech 10 feet from a throng of people shouting about traditional marriage can be a little unnerving, Kinsey Morrison said in a phone interview with Pure Politics.

“I guess I’m glad because they were so close to each other people who see the video will see the reality, will see the hatred that we still face,” she said, calling some of the remarks hurled at her Tuesday “vile.”

Despite her feelings on the subject, Morrison says she isn’t surprised to hear Republican gubernatorial candidates railing against same-sex marriage on the campaign trail.

“I think a lot of those people are the ones who voted for it in 2004,” said Morrison, noting her hopes that Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway, who declined to appeal a federal ruling overturning Kentucky’s same-sex marriage ban, occupies the governor’s mansion come December.

Kentuckians overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment barring recognition of same-sex marriage by a nearly three-to-one margin at the polls in 2004.

Although support for same-sex marriage has climbed some since then, a March Bluegrass Poll showed 57 percent of respondents opposed homosexual marriage versus 33 percent in support, with 10 percent undecided.

Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst for the Family Foundation of Kentucky, said he expects the court to uphold state law on marriage if Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom many see as a swing vote on the issue, follows the precedent he set in striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act on the basis that states should define marriage.

“The reasoning he used to strike down the federal law was that it nullified state prerogative to define marriage,” Cothran said. “If he turns around and strikes down our law, he’s going to violating that prerogative himself, but once again logic doesn’t necessarily apply on this issue, unfortunately.”

Conway will be “extremely vulnerable” in the fall election because of his decision against appealing the initial federal ruling, Cothran said.

Gov. Steve Beshear ultimately took the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which overturned the federal judge’s decision and ultimately sent the case to the Supreme Court.

“I think if Republican candidates are smart politically, they would certainly want to highlight this issue,” Cothran said.

“I think there’s a vacuum right now that someone could fill who would champion the rights of voters to make these decisions rather than have courts take those rights away, and Republican candidates in particular, I think, have a golden opportunity here because Jack Conway shirked his constitutional responsibility to defend this case, to defend this law.”

Conway’s gubernatorial campaign declined a request for comment, but Allison Martin, his spokeswoman in the attorney general’s office, said he followed his constitutional duties by informing Beshear that the U.S. District Judge John Heyburn’s ruling “appeared legally correct, that the state would likely not be successful on appeal, and that pursuing it would be a costly fight.”

“When Attorney General Conway announced the legal analysis regarding this case, he said it was about people — not politics,” Martin said in a statement. “It was about the law. Attorney General Conway upheld his oath of office and his duty under Kentucky law.”

With the high court potentially striking down Kentucky’s same-sex marriage ban, Morrison says her mothers would like to wed on the 25th anniversary of their first date in December.

They haven’t considered marrying in one of the 37 states that grant same-sex marriages because they want to wed “in the state that we live in and love, and we want our family and friends to be able to come,” she said.

“We’re holding out,” Morrison said. “I think we’ve waited long enough that if we’re this close, we’re going to wait until they can do it in Kentucky.”

Photo submitted by Kinsey Morrison. The Morrison family, from left, Jillian, 16, Kinsey, 18, Karen, Taegan, 12, and Audrey.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.


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