Tag Archives: Kentucky

To support equality, church leaders in Kentucky stop signing marriage licenses

Leaders of a Christian Church in Louisville say they will stop signing state marriage licenses in a show of support for gay couples in Kentucky who can’t enjoy the same legal benefits as married couples.

More than 60 members at the Douglass Boulevard Christian Church voted unanimously in favor of the gesture. Church leaders said they wouldn’t sign licenses until gay couples are able to enjoy the financial and other advantages of a legal marriage in Kentucky.

Pastors who sign the licenses bestow “a number of gifts and benefits” to married couples, said the Rev. Derek Penwell, the church’s senior pastor.

“It seems the system itself is unjust, and our position at this point is, we love people across the board here and we don’t want to be in a position that underwrites a system that discriminates against people we care about,” Penwell said.

Penwell said the church’s move is in line with “the teachings of Jesus that focus on the necessity of embracing the powerless, giving voice to the voiceless.”

Some other congregations in Ohio, New York, Virginia and Oregon have made similar stands in support of gay marriage, many in response to their state’s bans on gay marriage.

Kentucky was one of 11 states that voted in 2004 to change its constitution to outlaw same-sex marriages. The constitutional amendment said marriage is limited to one man and one woman. It also prohibited unmarried people from ever obtaining “legal status identical to or similar to marriage.” Same-sex marriages were already prohibited under Kentucky law.

The Louisville church will continue to hold weddings but couples would have to seek legal a signature for their marriage license from an official. Penwell said the church hosted about eight weddings last year.

Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign, a Louisville-based gay-rights group, called the church a “pioneer congregation.”

“This is an incredible gesture towards fairness and equality in faith,” Hartman said.

Legal marriage gives couples in Kentucky tax, insurance and inheritance benefits that aren’t available to same-sex couples, Hartman said. He said gay couples are able to adopt children, but the process is complicated and only one parent is eligible for full parental rights.

Penwell said the church in eastern Louisville, which attracts about 100 members to Sunday services, has attracted a growing number of gay members over the past year but the flock remains predominantly straight. Penwell said the church, a member of the Disciples of Christ, has received some negative feedback since the decision, but “90 to 95 percent” of it has been supportive.


Kentucky Creation Museum turns away same-sex couple

A progressive blogger and another man who tried to go to a special event at Kentucky’s Creation Museum said they were denied admission because they told security that they were a same-sex couple.

The men bought tickets online for the “Date Night at the Creation Museum” event on Feb. 11 at the privately funded museum. It offers visitors a literal interpretation of the Bible, depicting how fundamentalists claim the world was created in six days about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.

Both museum officials and the men agree that they weren’t let in and their ticket costs were not refunded. They differ on whether it was clear beforehand that men without female companions would be turned away.

One of the men who was denied admission, Joe Sonka, is the writer of a blog called Barefoot and Progressive, who has previously criticized the museum and its founder. He says he is not gay.

“Anyway, the great irony is that while two men were not allowed to attend the Creation Museum last night, guess who they are welcoming with open arms today?” Sonka blogged. “None other than Jeffrey Bornhoeft, a lovely fellow making his first trip out of Ohio since the time that he shot his ex-wife’s husband three times in the head 11 years ago. Jeffrey is OK though, because he’s totally not into dudes.

Sonka also blogged that Ken Ham, who developed the creation museum, is seeking $40 million in tax breaks for a new biblical attraction called Ark Encounter. Job advertisements for Ark Encounter warn that applicants must sign a Christian oath purity pledge.

The Creation Museum claims its exhibits “uncover the truth about antibiotic resistant bacteria” and prove that natural selection is not the same as evolution.

“Biblical history is the key to understanding dinosaurs,” according to the museum’s press materials.