Metro Weekly

Federal judge places Kentucky recognition of same-sex marriages on hold


Recognition by Kentucky of legal same-sex marriages was put on hold Wednesday pending the appeal of federal court ruling.

U.S. District Court Judge John Heyburn ordered his Feb. 27 decision striking Kentucky’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions to be stayed as Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear appeals the case to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Perhaps it is difficult for Plaintiffs to understand how rights won can be delayed. It is a truth that our judicial system can act with stunning quickness, as this Court has; and then with sometimes maddening slowness. One judge may decide a case, but ultimately others have a final say,” Heyburn wrote in his decision handed down today. “It is the entire process, however, which gives our judicial system and our judges such high credibility and acceptance. This is the way of our Constitution. It is that belief which ultimately informs the Court’s decision to grant a stay. It is best that these momentous changes occur upon full review, rather than risk premature implementation or confusing changes. That does not serve anyone well.”

Heyburn originally put the enforcement of his order on hold until March 20 to allow the state to prepare for implementation. Earlier this month Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway announced he would not defend Kentucky’s same-sex marriage ban, leading Beshear to hire outside counsel to appeal the case. Beshear’s lawyers filed notice yesterday of their appeal to the Sixth Circuit.

Heyburn wrote that his decision to put his order on hold was partially based on the Supreme Court’s decision to intervene in Utah, placing same-sex marriages on hold in that state while a federal court decision striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban is appealed. 

“[T]he Supreme Court has sent a strong message by its unusual intervention and order in that case,” Heyburn wrote. “It cannot be easily ignored.”

[Photo: Kentucky State Capitol, via Wikimedia Commons.] 

Kentucky Love v. Beshear Order

Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's former political editor and White House correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @JustinCSnow.