Louisville couple who were apart of Supreme Court case to legalize gay marriage advocates for same-sex marriage law

The race is on to pass a bill that offers federal protections to same-sex marriage.
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 10:50 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The race is on to pass a bill that offers federal protections to same-sex marriage.

After a vote in the Senate this week, the “Respect for Marriage” bill might have enough bi-partisan support to pass.

But will they get it done before the new Republican-controlled House convenes in January?

”We’ve had great discussions about what happens if the Supreme Court overturns Obergefell v. Hodges. What will we do? And part of that discussion is we couldn’t stay here in Kentucky any longer,” said Paul Campion, a same-sex marriage advocate.

The bill would act as extra protection in case the Supreme Court repeals same-sex marriage.

It’s something that Paul Campion and Randy Johnson have been fighting for years.

Campion and Johnson met in 1991. They hit it off immediately, bonding over the desire to have a family.

“We set out in about 1994 talking to various agencies, adoption agencies. Most of who would not to work with us at that time,” Campion said.

They finally found one in Louisville, an adopted their first two children in 1995. Twins Tevin and Tyler.

“The stipulation with that though was that it would have to be a single parent adoption. So both of us could not be legal parents to the children we adopted,” said Johnson.

They later expanded their family by adopting Mackenzie and Desean.

While vacationing in California in 2008, they decided to get married.

“We knew that when we came back to the state of Kentucky, we still had the issues of Kentucky is not going to recognize our marriage,” Campion said.

Campion was diagnosed with cancer, and they realized they needed to do something, because if he died, Johnson wouldn’t have a legal connection to him or the kids.

“We became involved in the state of Kentucky lawsuit where we actually challenged Steve Beshear and the state of Kentucky on their marriage ban,” Johnson said.

They won the lawsuit, but lost the appeal.

“Because of that loss, Kentucky’s lawsuit along with Tennessee, Ohio and Michigan were combined for the Supreme Court case,” Johnson said.

The case was Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015.

It was a landmark civil rights case where the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples had the right to get married.

Campion and Johnson were in the court room during the case.

“When the Supreme Court made that decision, we knew that Kentucky would have to recognize our marriage from California,” Campion said.

They were also allowed to do second parent adoptions, so they were finally a legal family. But fast forward to 2022, and with the repeal of Roe v. Wade, they’re worried.

“Along comes the Dobbs decision this past Spring. We kind of had an idea that same-sex marriage may be on the chopping block,” Campion said.

That’s why this week’s news of the “Respect for Marriage” bill being on step closer to passing is so important to them.

“There’s a scenario where the Supreme Court will still take this case again. I’m almost certain they will. They very well could reverse Obergefell, but the impact that will have is because this will be codified into law, is that we’ll have some protection,” Campion said.

Campion says the “Respect for Marriage” bill would trump the “Defense of Marriage Act.”

That means if the bill is passed it would protect their marriage on the federal level, even if the Supreme court overturned the landmark decision and sent it back to the states.

“My love for Paul and his love for me negatively affects no one. Put it positively affects at least four children,” Johnson said.

12 Republicans joined democratic senators to advance “Respect for Marriage.”

That gives Campion and Johnson hope the bill will pass by the end of the month.

The House meets for the last time on December 15th, before the next session starts in January.