Kentucky's top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Greg Stumbo (D) ruled domestic-partner benefits unconstitutional today, but left the door open for universities and colleges around the commonwealth to make them constitutional by broadening their definition of domestic-partner.
House Representative Stan Lee (R), currently running for the Office of Attorney General to replace Stumbo was one of two representatives to request the opinion (no surprise there).
“They still have the flexibility to allow and to offer their health insurance plan and its benefit structure to other people,” Stumbo said. “They cannot define the class of people in a manner that would be creating a legal status similar to that of marriage.”
The University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville currently offer domestic-partner benefits.
As I read Stumbo's opinion something struck a cord with me, from another state:
- In 2004 Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (D), acting on the advice of Attorney General Mike Cox (R), terminated domestic partner benefits that had been won by state unions.
- In February 2007 the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled the state's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage prevents public institutions from providing benefits to same-sex partners of employees.
Here we have a clear case of party lines. A democratic attorney general doesn't slam the door; a republican attorney general does.
"When ruling domestic-partner benefits unconstitutional in their current form Attorney General Greg Stumbo appears to have made an unbiased opinion based on the commonwealth's current laws and various court decisions. Though this isn't the opinion we obviously wanted, General Stumbo was very clear about ways existing domestic-partner benefits could be made constitutional," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "It was no surprise that Lexington's intolerant House Representative Stan Lee (R) was one of two officials requesting the ruling."