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Kentucky's attorney general won't fight against a court ruling ordering the state to recognize gay marriages performed in states where the ceremony is legal, but the state will seek outside counsel to uphold the ban. 

At first, the AP reported that the order to recognize out-of-state marriages will take effect later this month, on March 20. This means that married, gay individuals would be allowed to change their surnames (if they choose), file joint state tax returns, and have names added to birth certificates. Now, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is saying that the state intends to hire outside lawyers to place the appeal.

The Kentucky gay marriage recognition decision has already been mired in confusion. Last week, the AP jumped the gun (by a few hours) in saying that a court ruling ordered Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriage, upholding a Feb. 12 opinion that the ban on recognition violates the Constitution's equal-protection clause because it treats "gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them."

The order to recognize the opinion came soon after Conway's request for a delay, which was not mentioned by the court, complicating matters some. Before Kentucky's governor stepped it, in seemed Kentucky's already-married gay couples could finally breath easy, unless a higher court challenged the decision. Now things are back up in the air. 

In a news conference, Conway said that he would not appeal for the same reason the ban was found unconstitutional. If I did, he said, "I would be defending discrimination. That will not do." The decision does not affect gay marriage in the state, which is still illegal -- but may not be for long. The AP explains 

[U.S. District Judge John G.] Heyburn's ruling does not require the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples; that is the subject of a separate, but related lawsuit. Heyburn expects to rule on that issue by summer.

 Kentucky banned recognition of out-of-state marriage in 2004, and is one in a number of conservative states walking back anti-gay legislation. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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