A protester raises a flag at the Supreme Court in March 2013. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Today another court struck down a gay marriage ban. This time it was in Kentucky, one of the most socially conservative states. This is one more nail in the coffin of anti-gay marriage forces.

The Associated Press reports:

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn in Louisville concluded that the state’s prohibition on same-sex couples being wed violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by treating gay couples differently than straight couples.

Heyburn previously struck down Kentucky’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages from other states and countries, but he put the implementation of that ruling on hold. That decision did not deal with whether Kentucky would have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Instead, Tuesday’s ruling dealt directly with that question. . . .

Heyburn noted that every federal court to consider a same-sex marriage ban has found it unconstitutional. The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled arguments on rulings from Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee in a single session, on Aug. 6. Although the cases are unique, each deals with whether statewide gay marriage bans violate the Constitution.

It is noteworthy that 2016 aspirant and junior Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) as of this writing hadn’t issued a statement on the subject although his office put out missives lauding the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (with which he previously took issue on libertarian property-rights grounds) and infrastructure spending. The issue no longer seems to pack the punch it once did even for those trying their best to gain support from Christian conservatives.

By the 2016 presidential campaign (maybe even by this November), we will have a national election in which gay marriage goes unremarked upon by the vast number of candidates in both parties. Having lost that battle, social conservatives would be smart to focus on promotion of marriage more generally (and issues such as increasing the child tax credit) and on solidifying their big win on religious liberty. Candidates will be heard on foreign policy and defense of Israel, especially as the president’s policy of neglect and retrenchment risks leaving an al-Qaeda state in the center of the Middle East.

Social conservatives, contrary to the media’s portrayal, aren’t fading away. They will simply need to redirect their energies in ways that are the most effective. Any movement or party that fails to adjust to new realities goes the way of the Whigs. If social conservatives avoid that cardinal error, their voice – pro-life and favoring a strong United States in the world, school choice and religious liberty — will remain a critical part of the conservative coalition.