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Friday, February 28, 2014

Kentucky Ordered to Recognize Same-Sex Marriages

The hits just keep on comin'.  Yesterday, federal District Judge John Heyburn, like half a dozen other judges around the nation in the last couple of months, ruled in Bourke v. Bashear that gays are human beings, yup, and are thus entitled to the equal protection of the laws. However, his ruling goes only halfway to full marriage equality: it requires Kentucky to recognize all gay couples married out of state, but does not require Kentucky to start issuing marriage licenses to gays.

The ruling was effective immediately, not stayed as the state had requested. The governor and attorney general are considering whether to file an appeal within the next 30 days. Nevertheless, a separate case that does ask for the right to marry in Kentucky is already on the docket of the same federal district court, so perhaps in a couple of months, Judge Heyburn will let the other shoe drop.

Full text of the ruling here. See the last section, pp. 18-23, for Judge Heyburn's beautifully written exposition on constitutional rights and the duty of judges to uphold them even despite popular votes or legislative actions.

Update, 3/1/14: Judge Heyburn yesterday stayed his order until March 20, to give state officials time to implement administrative changes necessary for state agencies to implement the ruling. The case is continuing with another set of plaintiffs who seek an order requiring Kentucky to issue marriage licenses, and has been renamed Love v. Bashear.

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