FRANKFORT, KY, February 27, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A federal judge refused to grant a stay to his ruling that Kentucky must recognize same-sex “marriages” conducted in other states, or foreign countries. That means the traditional, religious state must treat such unions as bona fide “marriages” at once.
U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II made the initial ruling on February 12. On Thursday, he issued a final order striking down parts of a state law and a state constitutional marriage amendment supported by a wide majority of the voters.
In 2004, 75 percent of the state's electorate approved a marriage protection amendment.
Heyburn ruled that the measures “deny validly married same-sex couples equal recognition and benefits under Kentucky and federal law, those laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and they are void and unenforceable.”
A statewide Bluegrass Poll taken this month showed only 35 percent of Kentucky residents support redefining marriage. Even the 18-to-34 demographic split evenly.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway, both Democrats, filed an eleventh hour motion for a stay.
The letter said Beshear needed “time to determine what actions must be taken to implement this court's order if no appeal is taken,” an indication that Conway may join six Democratic state attorneys general in refusing to defend a state constitutional amendment passed and supported by state voters. Heyburn neither granted nor acknowledged the request in his order.
State pro-family leaders accused Conway of throwing the case, saying the legal brief in the Bourne vs. Beshear case was badly argued.
“If this were a private case, it would be legal malpractice,” Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst with the Kentucky-based Family Foundation, said.
“The Attorney General was clearly not intending to do its job,” Cothran said. “It only did what it was supposed to do after someone shed light on the fact that he was about to take one more action that favored those who are trying to disenfranchise Kentucky voters on the issue of marriage.”
One of the four couples that brought the lawsuit, Gregory Bourke and Michael Deleon of Louisville, was “married” in Canada, widening the scope of “marriages” the state must view as valid beyond the 50 states.
The legal drama intensified, as Heyburn broadened the case to allow new couples join who want Kentucky not just to recognize gay “marriages” from other states but also to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples within the state's borders.
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President George H.W. Bush appointed Heyburn to the bench in the early 1990s following a recommendation from Sen. Mitch McConnell.