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Kentucky judge to issue order today requiring recognition of all out-of-state marriage licenses

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UPDATE 11:51AM ET: The state has filed a request for a 90-day stay of the order, despite the judge’s statement that he won’t issue a stay. They argue that a 90-day stay “will give Defendants time to determine if they will appeal the order, and the Executive Branch time to determine what actions must be taken to implement this Court’s Order if no appeal is taken.” And on Twitter, the AP is reporting that the order requiring recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages has been issued. UPDATE: The AP has issued a correction; no order yet. EqualityOnTrial will post the order as soon as it’s available.

UPDATE 2: 2:35PM ET: The order is here, h/t Kathleen Perrin. There is no stay, though the judge could rule on the request for a 90-day stay soon.

Some big, under-the-radar news today out of Kentucky: the federal judge who a few weeks ago ruled that the state’s marriage equality ban unconstitutional will today issue a final order requiring Kentucky to recognize out-of-state marriage licenses for same-sex couples.  The Lexington Herald-Leader reports:

[L]awyers for the attorney general’s office told U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II at a hearing that the state would “very promptly” decide whether to appeal the order.

Heyburn told lawyers that his final order will not include a stay postponing it from taking effect. “There could be some confusion” among Kentuckians who quickly seek legal benefits stemming from their same-sex marriages, such as joint tax-filing status, if the state appeals 30 days later and delays the implementation of the order or throws its future into question, Heyburn cautioned.

Yesterday, along with announcing the timeline for his final order, Heyburn also granted a request by a new group of plaintiffs asking to intervene in the case and seeking a court order requiring Kentucky to issue its own marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  He did not grant them their request for a preliminary injunction, however, and will instead require their claims to go through the same judicial process he took with the original challenge seeking recognition for out-of-state licenses.

Heyburn’s decision not to stay the ruling will likely be highly significant, and could create a situation similar to that in Utah in December and January when couples flocked to country clerks to wed in the weeks-long window between a judge’s pro-marriage equality decision–which that judge did not stay–and a stay issued by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Although couples in Kentucky won’t be seeking their own in-state marriage licenses, they could immediately seek to have their out-of-state licenses recognized, which, as Heyburn pointed out yesterday, could result in some confusion if the case is appealed to the Sixth Circuit or the Supreme Court.

Both Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway are Democrats.  As the Herald-Leader points out, the two did not make arguments against marriage equality during the suit, and instead limited their filings in the case to issues of law.

We’ll have more on this news as it develops!

(H/t to Joe.My.God for pointing this important news out.)

For more information on Bourke v. Beshear from The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, click here.


  • 1. grod  |  February 27, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Judge Heyburn allowed a new group of plaintiffs to intervene in the case.

  • 2. Scottie Thomaston  |  February 27, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Yeah to challenge the ban itself in the state. Apparently he denied a preliminary injunction for them though, so the state won't perform same-sex marriages until, at least, he issues a ruling on that.

  • 3. Pat  |  February 27, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Im confused. Wasn't there already a ruling as recently as a few weeks ago in Kentucky regarding recognition of out of state marriages?

  • 4. Scottie Thomaston  |  February 27, 2014 at 9:26 am

    Ruling yes but no final order.

  • 5. Bill  |  February 27, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Fascinating! Now what will Heyburn do if he finds in favor of the new plaintiffs who are directly challenging Kentucky's in-state SSM ban? Would he stay that decision and but keep this one in effect? No? Huh?

  • 6. Eric  |  February 27, 2014 at 10:38 am

    It would depend on his ruling and the claims made by the state if they request a stay. Personally, I don't see how a judge can issue a stay while also ruling that a fundamental right is being infringed upon.

  • 7. StraightDave  |  February 27, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Oh wow! Check out the map.

    I just realized KY is the missing link that connects ME states in a continuous line from Minnesota to Maine, some still in various states of evolution (multiple puns intended).

    IL – expanding court ruling statewide (probably soon).
    KY – recognition now, but follow-up license suit in the pipeline, which the judge practically invited
    VA – struck down but on appeal.

    And the best part is, we've encroached well below the Mason-Dixon line.

    Go team! Go everybody!
    USA! USA! USA! – Sorry, couldn't resist. Memories of the public gallery exploding after the NY Senate vote… so cool it was to watch live

  • 8. Straight Ally #3008  |  February 27, 2014 at 10:21 am

    I also like how Arizona looks so surrounded on that map. 🙂

  • 9. StevenJ  |  February 27, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Indiana is also surrounded (even if only by an * one side). We have come so far here just by keeping an anti-equality referendum off the ballot!

  • 10. Straight Ally #3008  |  February 27, 2014 at 11:18 am

    That was a devastating loss for NOM. That meant no "will of the people" ballot fights that they can realistically win this year, maybe ever again, and meanwhile they're getting destroyed in the federal courts.

  • 11. Rick O.  |  February 27, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Probably the only ballot fights from now on will be repeals, and then only if SCOTUS takes its time. The collapse of the Jim Crow "religious freedom" bills around the country suggests that all but the most conservative Republicans have realized any victories would be pyrrhic and short-lived, the business community has finally weighed in 99% pro equal rights, and could we all please change the subject now. If you know the courts will deny you victory, why pick the fight? Does put Texas R candidates on the spot this fall, though.

  • 12. Pat  |  February 27, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    And the map has just been updated!

    Yay, it looks more and more impressive!

  • 13. StraightDave  |  February 27, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Ooooooo, just love that TX is joining in the fun now. God, how many heads must be exploding down there now. That governor's race is gonna be a hoot. And they can't look over and laugh at OK for getting spanked, anymore.

  • 14. Rick O.  |  February 27, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Democrat Kentucky AG in a tight spot. Grimes allegedly has a shot at beating McConnell for Senate (though I doubt it), but it's rather contingent on D's being seen as un-liberal as possible between now and Nov.

  • 15. Equality On TrialKentucky&hellip  |  February 28, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    […] order requiring Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. This week, the state requested a 90-day stay, suggesting that the additional time “will give Defendants time to determine if they will […]

  • 16. Equality On TrialKentucky&hellip  |  March 4, 2014 at 9:09 am

    […] Attorney General Jack Conway has said he won’t appeal the federal district court’s order requiring the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. However, the governor of Kentucky, […]

  • 17. alli  |  March 4, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Could the court of appeals (the same one that heard the ohio death certificate case) apply a stricter standard and extend the "married elsewhere just not here" idea to ohio and the rest of the circuit?anyone have thoughts on this?

  • 18. Equality On TrialSame-sex&hellip  |  August 7, 2014 at 12:20 am

    […] today, the final order in the judge’s earlier decision went into effect. That order only applied to same-sex […]

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