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Judge: Ky. must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Updated: 7:00 p.m. EST

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, part of an unprecedented barrage of marriage equality lawsuits in states where voters have overwhelmingly opposed recognition of gay and lesbian couples.

KentuckyU.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II struck down part of the gay-marriage ban that Kentuckians had approved in 2004, saying it treated gays and lesbians “in a way that demeans them.”

“Assigning a religious or traditional rationale for a law does not make it constitutional when that law discriminates against a class of people without other reasons,” wrote Heyburn, an appointee of Republican President George H.W. Bush.

His decision coincided with legal attacks Wednesday on gay-marriage bans in three other socially conservative states – Texas, Louisiana and Missouri – and was issued just a few weeks after federal judges in Utah and Oklahoma struck down the voter-approved bans in those states.

According to the advocacy group Freedom to Marry, there are now 45 pending marriage-equality cases in 24 of the 33 states that do not allow same-sex marriage. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have legalized such unions, while three other states – Colorado, Nevada and Oregon – grant marriage-like rights though civil unions or domestic partnerships.

The stage for the current wave of litigation was set by the U.S. Supreme Court last June, when it ordered the federal government to recognize valid same-sex marriages, but stopped short of striking down state laws banning them. Gay-rights activists hope that one or more of the lawsuits filed since June or planned for the near future will reach the high court and lead to nationwide legalization.

“One of the 40-plus ongoing cases, or even some other one, could conceivably reach the Supreme Court as soon as 2015, or within a few years later, so the clock is ticking,” said Freedom to Marry president Evan Wolfson.

“The aim is not just to get to the Supreme Court, but to win when we get there,” Wolfson said.

The Kentucky decision came in lawsuits brought by four gay and lesbian couples seeking to force the state to recognize their out-of-state marriages.

The ruling only requires Kentucky to recognize such marriages. It does not deal with the question of whether the state can be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples; that issue wasn’t brought up in the lawsuits.

The ruling drew the ire of religious leaders who said Heyburn’s decision takes away Kentucky’s right to determine its policies regarding marriage.

Paul Chitwood of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, the state’s largest religious organization with 750,000 members, called the ruling “tragic and disappointing.”

“This decision moves us down the slippery slope toward launching Kentucky into moral chaos and depriving children of their innat e need of both a father and a mother,” Chitwood said.

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86 more reader comments:

  1. Yes! #equality #forward

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:30pm
  2. Wow

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:30pm
  3. Seriously? Thats so awesome and good news :)

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:30pm
  4. yeah bitches!!! woot. I mean this shit is in the constitutional amendments, but it’s nice that a judge is finally recognizing it.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:31pm
  5. Emily !

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:31pm
  6. Hahahaha…WOOHOO! Conservative heads exploding state by state. I wonder how they’re gonna make themselves.adapt and change to accept LGBT folk – cuz if they don’t, they’ll be as dead as the dodo. :)

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:31pm
  7. Another bigot amendment bites the dust!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:32pm
  8. The dominoes are falling, just wish it would happen a lil quicker.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:33pm
  9. Way to go

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:33pm
  10. It’s kind of happening everywhere. I hope this means what I think this means in the very near future.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:33pm
  11. brick by brick the stonewall is coming down

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:33pm
  12. Good!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:33pm
  13. Jules post this!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:33pm
  14. Ok but lincoln was born in ohio i thought

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:33pm
  15. No, very much in Kentucky!

    Replied on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:47pm
  16. Yezzzzz 4life

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:33pm
  17. Could of swon he was born.in ohio.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:34pm
  18. Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:34pm
  19. Sweeeeet!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:35pm
  20. Thank you, Kentucky!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:35pm
  21. Break out the mint juleps! :D

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:37pm
  22. Way to go!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:38pm
  23. Ok, the rest of those “Dominos” just as well fall into that big Abyss rights for ALL and not some.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:38pm
  24. Yes!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:40pm
  25. yay!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:41pm
  26. Kuntacky sucks

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:42pm
  27. President legalize all U S States and it be a must . Lets approve this and move on to more urgent issues . Economy , Health Care ,

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:44pm
  28. Way to Go Kentucky… MY State is starting to shed its Bigotry. But I am waiting for the fall out from these Right Wingnut Religious Christian Reich..

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:45pm
  29. Who would have thunk it!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:46pm
  30. As someone who lived in Kentucky this makes me really happy!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:46pm
  31. yeah

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:49pm
  32. but who would want to live in Kentucky? j/k

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:50pm
  33. ?
    .9kk

    Aa

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:50pm
  34. .how com all the history books show ohio then

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:51pm
  35. Less its a border birth .thing .then in that case its nither

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:52pm
  36. State.since history seems to only tell one side aney way

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:53pm
  37. Excellent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:56pm
  38. I am hoping that President Obama issues a modern day Emancipation Proclamation (a.k.a. Executive Order) freeing the LGBTQ Community from the UNCONSTITUTIONAL LAWS that bind us and deny us all to our RIGHT TO LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:58pm
  39. he should have done that day one of his first term and then let the states sue and lose.

    Replied on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 7:16pm
  40. What Barack Obama needs to do is get House Democrats to get the Discriminatory Offensive Marriage Attack repealed ONCE & FOR ALL

    Replied on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 8:11pm
  41. agreed! Its amazing how some conservatives complain about all their rights being taken away but don't acknowledge THESE basic rights being taken away from others.

    Replied on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 9:18pm
  42. Like watching a domino sculpture! Watch those suckers fall!! :D

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 5:59pm
  43. take that bitch maconnel.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:01pm
  44. yea!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:13pm
  45. :)

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:14pm
  46. Here we come I Indiana. Equality in spite of your hateful amendment !!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:14pm
  47. Die BASTARDS!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:14pm
  48. Yes

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:18pm
  49. We shall overcome!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:18pm
  50. B.S.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:18pm
  51. Proud to call Ky my home today.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:21pm
  52. Wow!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:21pm
  53. Live in Ohio but went to the University of Kentucky. Kentucky is close to my heart, so I am very happy to hear this news!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:41pm
  54. getting closer to us

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:41pm
  55. It’s about time! Even as a law student, I’ve never understood why a samesex marriage isn’t recognized like a heterosexual one.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:45pm
  56. So my ccw should be good in all states and if I get caught carrying my concealed weapon in Ohio, then I should just demand the police let me go because it’s good in other states. I’m not saying I’m against same sex marriage, just tired of the thought of it being stuffed down my throat. People should be free to love and marry who they want.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:50pm
  57. No one is stuffing it down your throat if they aren't forcing you to marry a man. I'm just tired of that argument used to continue abridging rights of a minority group. If you are tired of hearing about it, then work to get equality (re)written into laws and constitutions, then we will shut up about it.

    Replied on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 7:32pm
  58. the Full Faith and Credit clause, in action.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:52pm
  59. And another down…. and another one bites the dust.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:53pm
  60. Why does a state that you can marry your cousin make so much fuss ?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 7:02pm
  61. TENNESSEE IS ON THE BLOCK

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 7:05pm
  62. If they can free the slaves – they can give freedom and equality to “gays” too…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 7:08pm
  63. AWESOME!!!!! <3 <3 <3

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 7:10pm
  64. Jennifer Bird-Pollan yay!!! Kentucky — happy for your family and all family in K, especially our children, the future of the state.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 7:11pm
  65. Then so should Indiana.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 7:13pm
  66. bout damn time this starts hitting the southern states we live in and honor <3

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 7:34pm
  67. I’m a libertarian, I’m not pro or anti gay marriage. I believe the governments have too much control over our lives. If being married makes men or women feel more complete and more like the family they want to be then so be it.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 7:45pm
  68. Finally something good from here. Well aside from my city, Louisville.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 7:57pm
  69. Another domino bites the dust

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 8:10pm
  70. Its a start…..

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 8:14pm
  71. YES!!!!!! This is a simple decision for a judge to make, if the state recognizes marriages from other states, then they should recognize ALL marriages from other states!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 8:24pm
  72. This brought a smile to my exhausted, sick, and downtrodden heart one that actually reached my face. Thank you LGBTQ nation for lifting my spirits in this very gloomy week.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 8:32pm
  73. Good. Now let’s continue overturning bans, laws and constitutional amendments so that marriage is granted to any couple who want to get the same rights as other couples.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 8:35pm
  74. Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 8:35pm
  75. how special (grin)…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 8:38pm
  76. Kentucky has to because they Ok it to marry your sister brother mom or dad

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 8:41pm
  77. I’m gonna marry my dog

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 8:41pm
  78. Another one bites the dust!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 8:52pm
  79. “Birthplace of Abraham Lincoln” Unwilling to recognize Equal, Faith and Credit of the Constitution.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 9:07pm
  80. Piece by piece, it all comes crumbling down around the idiot religious right

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 9:13pm
  81. Even Kentucky is more current than Texas?!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 9:33pm
  82. OH MY GOD YES! MY STATE IS GETTING CLOSER!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 9:33pm
  83. I’m so happy Kentucky finally steped up

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 9:34pm
  84. Just wondering if and when we get to marry like everyone else

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 9:43pm
  85. What awesome news. So happy for the Kentuckians! :)

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 9:52pm
  86. I knew that was coming !

    Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 10:27pm