A federal judge on Thursday ruled that
Kentucky must recognize the out-of-state marriages of gay and lesbian
U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn
earlier this month declared that the state's laws “violate the
Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United
Heyburn on Thursday denied a request
from Attorney General Jack Conway's office to stay his ruling.
“Those laws … are void and
unenforceable,” Heyburn wrote in a brief order, The
Conway, a Democrat, has yet to announce
whether the state will pursue an appeal. Earlier this week, Attorney
General Eric Holder stated that state attorneys general are not
obligated to defend unconstitutional laws.
“[I]n general, I believe we must be
suspicious of legal classifications based solely on sexual
orientation,” he told a National Association of Attorneys General
(Related: Eric Holder: State
attorneys general “must be suspicious” of gay marriage bans.)
Attorneys general in Nevada,
Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, Illinois and most recently Oregon
have refused to defend laws that prohibit gay couples from marrying.
Four gay and lesbian couples filed the
lawsuit soon after the Supreme Court eviscerated the heart of the
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June. The high court's majority
ruled unconstitutional DOMA's provision prohibiting federal agencies
from recognizing the legal marriages of gay couples. Its decision
also chided lawmakers for legalizing discrimination.
Plaintiff couple Gregory Bourke and
Michael Deleon from Louisville, both 55, married in Canada in 2004.
“We are victims of discrimination,
and that's what the lawsuit is about,” Deleon, a database
administrator, told The
being treated equally under the law.”
ruling follows a federal decision handed down Wednesday declaring
Texas' ban on same-sex marriage invalid.
gay marriage ban ruled unconstitutional.)