Seeking Respect After 45 Years

Jim Meade & Luke Barlow • Louisville, KY

"After 45 years, there is so much to tell and not enough time," Jim & Luke reflected as they prepared to make the case for marriage in Kentucky.

For 46 years, Jim Meade and Luke Barlow have stood by each other, supporting each other during every step of their lives together.

They met in the fall of 1968, when Jim was studying at Morehead State University. As the youngest of fourteen children raised in Eastern Kentucky, Jim was quickly taken with Luke - Luke jokes that since Jim's parents never had a car or a television, he was easily impressed. That fall, Luke drove miles and miles from Lexington to Morehead, spending time with Jim, getting to know each other and falling in love. 

By that November, they were indisputably a match: Luke gave Jim a ring, and the two have been together ever since. Over the next few years, they moved around a bit, spending time in Indiana, Iowa, and Tennessee and later purchasing two businesses together.

In October 2002, Jim was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and Luke was ready to endure the fight with him: "We asked the barber to clip us close to get ready for his chemo," Luke said, laughing, "It all came back eventually."

The couple moved back to Kentucky in 2006, thinking to themselves, "The next time we move, it will be in an urn!"

When Iowa approved the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, they took a trip to Davenport, where the former mayor of the city witnessed their wedding on July 30, 2009.

"After 45 years, there is so much to tell and not enough time. Love is timeless."

Now, Jim and Luke are only asking for Kentucky - and the rest of the country - to treat their marriage as equal to any other marriage. After nearly 46 years together, they know that it's time they were respected in their home state.

That's why they've joined together with several other couples in the federal lawsuit Bourke v. Beshear, which seeks respect for marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other states. The case was brought by Fauver Law Office, led by primary attorneys Shannon Fauver and Dawn Elliot, with further involvement from Clay Daniel Walton & Adams attorneys Dan Canon, Laura Landenwich and L. Joe Dunman. In August, they'll make their case for the freedom to marry to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit - and they're hopeful that soon, Kentucky finally stands on the right side of history.

"After 45 years, there is so much to tell and not enough time," Jim reflected. "Love is timeless."

Certainly, this latest chapter of their life together - fighting for the freedom to marry and to be respected as married in the Bluegrass State - is a highlight of their timeless story.