Don't Plan Your Kentucky Gay Wedding Just Yet
A widely-circulated (and applauded) AP tweet on Thursday seemed to suggest that the state of Kentucky was now recognizing same-sex marriages.
BREAKING: With judge's order, same-sex marriage now legally recognized in Kentucky.— The Associated Press (@AP) February 27, 2014
A widely-circulated (and applauded) AP tweet on Thursday declared that the state of Kentucky was now recognizing same-sex marriages. But hold up a bit on writing your bourbon reception toasts for your favorite same-sex couples in the state: the decision in question only pertains to legally-performed same-sex marriages in other states. And Kentucky's Attorney General Jack Conway isn't quite done fighting the mid-February court order that sent Kentucky towards the front of the pack in the state-by-state fight for marriage equality. A judge was expected to issue a final order requiring the state to recognize out-of-state marriages, but that hasn't happened yet (Update: the order was issued, and it's now below).
The AP was later forced to issue a correction for its confusing tweet:
CORRECTION: No judge's order issued on same-sex marriage in Kentucky. Previous tweet incorrectly stated order issued. http://t.co/OFtjHErtVj— The Associated Press (@AP) February 27, 2014
As the actual AP article on the development explains, the state's AG filed a two-page request for a delay on Thursday. That was the only court action on the ban at the time the story broke. The AG's request argues that Kentucky needs more time to decide whether it'll appeal the order. And even if it doesn't appeal, the state also claims that it isn't prepared to implement it.
The Courier-Journal argues that Conway's filing suggests that while the state clearly wants to delay recognition of same-sex marriages in the state, his office might not formally appeal the ruling. In the past, the Kentucky AG has said that he's obligated to defend state law on same-sex marriage against legal challenges, but U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Monday that this wasn't the case for potentially discriminatory laws like same-sex marriage bans.
In the earlier decision, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II wrote that "It is clear that Kentucky’s laws treat gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them," and ordered the state to start enforcing his decision by February 27th, which is today. But even if his decision does go into effect this week, it wouldn't overturn the state's existing ban on same-sex marriage. But that could change. Just yesterday, Judge Heyburn allowed two-same sex couples to join the lawsuit in question. Those two couples are asking the court to grant them the right to a Kentucky wedding.
Update: The order came through, and for now, Kentucky must recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. Here it is:
Judge Heyburn also set a schedule for a new round of briefings on the newly-added direct challenge to Kentucky's entire same-sex marriage ban. He has not yet ruled on the state's earlier request for a delay.
This post on a developing story has been updated with new information.