Legislation altering the state's marriage licensing process moved through the Republican-led Senate Thursday, but not without a vigorous debate over the merits of utilizing two distinct forms.
Under the bill, both straight and same-sex couples could opt for applications reading "Bride" and "Groom" or "First Party" and "Second Party." An amendment introduced by Louisville Democrat Morgan McGarvey merging the two into a single form was rejected on a 23-15 vote. Lawmakers spent much of the discussion tussling over which plan claimed the most support from the state's county clerks.
In remarks to his colleagues on the floor, Sen. Gerald Neal suggested the duplicate applications hinted at an attitude of exclusion with a troubling historical track record.
"I'm not suggesting that in the corners of each mind in here there's an intent to do that. I'm saying that's the effect of what this," the senator said. "Separate has never been equal and in this situation it's not equal."
Boone County Republican John Schickel took issue with the characterization, responding, "It has nothing to do with bigotry. It has nothing to do with discrimination. It has to do with the vast majority of Kentuckians that respect traditional marriage being able to do so."
The bill now moves to the House, where Speaker Greg Stumbo has indicated the chamber is expected to put forward its own version.