LOUISVILLE, Ky. — June 26 marks six years since same-sex marriage became legal in all 50 states.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to overturn all state bans on same-sex marriage, and to recognize same-sex unions on the same terms as the marriages of opposite-sex couples.
It marks a joyous day for Kim Franklin and Tammy Boyd-Franklin; the Shelby County couple’s out-of-state marriage finally received the recognition from Kentucky they’d been fighting to get. They were among the plaintiffs in Bourke v. Beshear, a Kentucky civil rights case seeking recognition of their same-sex marriage from other jurisdictions.
That day, when the ruling came down, Kim and Tammy drove to Louisville where they saw two of their friends, Tim Love and Larry Ysunza, get married inside the clerk’s office as new marriage licenses were printed. They were plaintiffs in Love v. Beshear, a case that challenged Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage, seeking the right to marry after they had previously been refused a marriage license. The two cases, Bourke v. Beshear and Love v. Beshear, were considered by the U.S. Supreme Court as part of the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges case.
“We just want to live our lives and love the way everybody else does,” Kim Franklin said, recalling the legal fight for love that took them all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. “We took on that fight because it got to be where it's like, it's not right, and we're going to do anything we can we have the opportunity to do to make it right.”
The Shelby County couple of 14 years married in Connecticut in 2014, but their marriage was not recognized back home in Kentucky.
“For us it was frustrating because we had lived already as a married couple. We owned our own home together. You know, we worked, we paid the taxes, we did everything a married couple did, but yet we weren't recognized as such,” Kim said.
Shannon Fauver, one of the attorneys who represented Kentucky’s plaintiffs, said Kentucky’s cases helped expedite the landmark ruling.
“Most people don't realize that. They don't know that, because we didn't know not to ask for the right to marry and recognition, that it would have gone, then it would have taken longer to get there,” Fauver said.
Interestingly, Kim and Tammy’s case was Fauver’s very first civil rights case, however she has filed many more since the landmark ruling.
For Kim and Tammy, the long awaited recognition of their marriage was validating, but perhaps even more rewarding, was the path they paved for those behind them. The couple says Tammy often hears from young people on social media who thank her for making the path to love and marriage easier for them.
“That was part of the reason we did it other than the rights for us, specifically medical rights for us so that we can make decisions for each other. We wanted to younger people coming along behind us, to not have the struggles that we had,” Kim said.
Although many challenges still exist for the LGBTQ+ community, Kim and Tammy encourage the fighters behind them to stay strong and have faith in the pursuit of equality.
“The struggles are still out there, but they’re worth fighting for,” said Kim.