American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

Federal Judge orders Kentucky to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages

Today, Federal District Court struck down Kentucky’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages performed outside of the Bluegrass State.

Judge John G. Heyburn II, appointed to the bench by George H. W. Bush, ruled that laws enumerated in the Kentucky Constitution “deny validly married same-sex couples equal recognition and benefits under Kentucky and federal law.” The ruling did not address whether the State must allow gay and lesbian couples to get married.

He stated that such laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. A hearing will be set in the near future to determine when the court’s order will take effect. The State will likely appeal today’s decision.

Read the order below.

The Kentucky Constitutional Amendment 1 of 2004 which states only a marriage between one man and woman shall be valid or recognized in Kentucky  was approved by 75% of voters. Since 2004, the percentage of Kentucky voters who do not support marriage equality has seen a sharp decline from 72% to 55%.

The suit against the amendment, Bourke & Deleon v. Beshear, was filed on behalf of four married same-sex couples and their children.

Currently, there are 17 states, as well as the District of Columbia, that recognize marriage equality. Arguments are being heard today in District Court in a Texas case, and a decision is expected “very soon” in AFER’s federal court case in Virginia.

Greg Bourke, right, and Michael Deleon, two of the plaintiffs. Photo: Scott Utterback/The Courier-Journal