On this day four years ago, July 26, 2013, Shannon Fauver, at the Fauver Law Office, filed the case, Bourke v. Beshear, which started Kentucky on the path to the U.S. Supreme Court and a ruling on marriage equality. Her associate, Dawn Elliott, also was counsel on the case and they decided that someone should file for Kentucky, so they did.
When we filed the case, we were told that we could not win, that Kentucky was not the right place for this case, etc., but that didn’t stop us and actually only made us dig in and push harder.
30 days before that, the US Supreme Court ruled in Windsor that the Windsor marriage had to be recognized, in that case, for an estate, but didn’t rule on the legality of same-sex marriages. Attorney across the country read that ruling as a call to file cases to change the law for the country to allow everyone to marry the person they loved, regardless of their gender. I know that is how Dawn and I read it. In those 30 days, the number of lawsuits filed across the country grew every day and the number of states that allowed or recognized same-sex marriages changed almost daily. I know I kept a running total in my office and changed it regularly.
During that 30 day period, we were drafting and redrafting the lawsuit and meeting with clients. Tammy Boyd and Kim Franklin were the first to join in, but due to an issue with filing, they became the second case filed in Kentucky, Franklin v. Beshear, instead of the first. Greg Bourke and Michael De Leon, and their children became the named plaintiffs in the Kentucky case and Randy Johnson and Paul Campion, and their children, joined in along with Luke Barlowe and Jim Meade. All of these couples had been married outside of Kentucky and just wanted their marriages recognized by the place they called home.
We later added other attorneys on to assist with the case and actually added another case the following February 14 (and that was on purpose), to ask for the right to marry in Kentucky. Dominique James and Maurice “Bo jangles” Blanchard had previously been arrested when they went to get a marriage license and neither they nor Tim Love and Larry Ysunza (the last set of plaintiffs) didn’t see any reason they should have to leave the state to get married. That case was Love v. Beshear.
As this was our first civil rights case, we decided to go against what everyone else was doing, which was asking for a limited ruling, but we asked for it all. We wanted our clients’ marriages to be recognized and wanted them to be able to get married here in Kentucky. We were the only State that asked for both, and without that the cases may not have made it to the Supreme Court when they did.
When we ended up in the Supreme Court, we had 18 of the 33 plaintiffs (the rest were from multiple cases in Tennessee, Michigan and Ohio) and speaking for myself, that day is one I will never forget.
I am glad that the clients and the attorneys all trusted us with their families.