Louisville, Ky. (Courier-Journal) -- At least for now, Kentucky must recognize same-sex marrriages performed in states where it is legal.
District Judge John G. Heyburn today made final a ruling issued earlier
this month in which he found that Kentucky's marriage amendment and
statutes violate the right to equal protection under the law.
"Those laws ... are void and unenforceable," he said in a one page order.
today, Attorney General Jack Conway's office asked Heyburn to stay
enforcement of his ruling, but Heyburn did not address that motion and
for now his ruling goes into effect.
Dan Canon, a lawyer for the four gay and lesbian couples who won the
case, said: "We are cautiously optimistic. The order has been granted
without qualification and without a stay."
the importance of the case, Conway's office asked Heyburn to delay the
effective date of his order for 90 days to decide whether to appeal. The
motion says Gov. Steve Beshear, also a defendant, needs time as well to
decide how to implement the order if it is not appealed.
motion suggests that Conway is at least considering joining six other
state attorneys general who have decided not to appeal rulings throwing
out marriage bans. Those officials, all Democrats, said the laws are
discriminatory and violate the right to equal protection under the law.
has said he is legally bound to defend Kentucky statutes and its
marriage amendment, but U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.
declared Monday that state attorneys
general are not obligated to defend laws they believe are
discriminatory. In an interview with The New York Times, Holder said
officials who have carefully studied bans on gay marriage could refuse
to defend them.
In the motion filed Thursday, assistant attorneys general Clay
Barkley and Brian Judy say they reserve the right to request a stay of
the order pending a possible appeal.
said the plaintiffs will oppose the motion for a stay. He said they are
hopeful that Conway will "follow suit" with the attorney general of
Virgina and those in the five other states that elected not to appeal.
Conway is taking heat from both sides in the gay marriage debate.
Councilwoman Tina Ward-Push, who is lesbian and supports gay marriage,
said in a tweet that she was disappointed with Conway for seeking the
stay, while Martin Cothran, a senior policy analyst for the Family
Foundation of Kentucky, accused Conway of "legal malpractice" and
betraying Kentucky voters by not defending the marriage amendment more
23-page opinion Feb. 12, Heyburn said Kentucky's ban on recognizing
same-sex marriages from other states deprives gays and lesbians of
numerous legal protections that are available to opposite-sex couples
and violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the
In part of
the case that probably won't be decided for several month, two gay
couples have also asked Heyburn to strike down Kentucky's ban on
same-sex couples marrying in Kentucky.
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