Federal judge orders Kentucky to recognize married same-sex couples

A federal judge ordered state officials in Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions in an order handed down Thursday.

U.S. District Court Judge John Heyburn wrote that state laws denying validly married same-sex couples equal recognition and benefits under Kentucky and federal law “violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and they are void and unenforceable.”

The order comes after Heyburn struck down Kentucky’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions earlier this month in a ruling that labeled the state ban as unconstitutional. Although Kentucky’s attorney general had earlier asked Heyburn to delay his order by 90 days in order to allow the state to decide whether to appeal his Feb. 12 ruling and to provide time for the state to prepare the implementation of the order, Heyburn has not issued a stay for his order.

Heyburn was recommended to the federal bench by Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell and nominated by President George H. W. Bush in 1992.

UPDATE: Heyburn granted a stay on his order Friday. While the state requested 90 days, Heyburn put the enforcement of his order on hold until March 20, 2014. 

“The Court concludes that a limited stay allows the state proper time toadministratively prepare for compliance with the Order,” Heyburn wrote.

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Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's political editor and White House correspondent. He can be reached at jsnow@metroweekly.com.

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