KY AG: Domestic Partner Benefits Unconstitutional

June 4, 2007 ( - Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo has issued a formal opinion that programs at the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville that would offer health insurance to domestic partners of unmarried employees are unconstitutional.

According to the 17-page opinion , health insurance coverage may not be offered when it is limited to a narrowly defined class but may be freely provided to a larger category of persons. The opinion evaluates the impact of the so-called Marriage Amendment to the Kentucky Constitution, which provides that “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Kentucky. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.”

The opinion notes that the University of Kentucky plans to require insurance applicants to complete an “Affidavit of Domestic Partnership,” which demands a person to swear that they:

  • have been the sole domestic partner of the University employee for at least six months;
  • meet certain legal requirements for marriage;
  • are in a “close and committed relationship” and intend to remain in the relationship.

The University of Louisville published similar requirements for domestic partner coverage.

The Attorney General’s opinion finds that the schools’ plans are “too exclusive in defining the class of beneficiaries,” and suggests that “the universities could elect to offer health insurance benefits to all of an employee’s dependents, or to use any other approach that would not involve the unconstitutional recognition of a legal status resembling that of marriage.”

The attorney general’s opinion is advisory and does not carry the weight of law, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. The opinion was requested by Representative J. Stan Lee, House Minority Whip and Representative Thomas J. Burch, 30th Legislative District.

The 2007 state General Assembly considered but did not pass a bill that would have banned domestic partnership benefits for state employees.