Judge rules gay couples have right to marry in Kentucky - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Judge rules gay couples have right to marry in Kentucky

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A federal judge struck down Kentucky's ban on same-sex couples getting licenses and marrying in the state.

However, Tuesday's ruling was temporarily put on hold because it will be appealed, meaning it is not yet clear when same-sex couples could be issued marriage licenses.

[RELATED STORY: Judge grants stay order in same-sex marriage appeal in Indiana]

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn concluded the state's prohibition on same-sex couples being wed violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by treating gay couples differently than straight couples.

Heyburn previously struck down Kentucky's ban on recognizing same-sex marriages from other states and countries, but put the implementation of that ruling on hold. That decision did not deal with whether Kentucky would have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

[RELATED: U.S. District Court opinion and order]

The case was brought by Timothy Love and Lawrence Ysunza, who lived together for 34 years and were denied a marriage license on Feb. 13 by the Jefferson County Clerk's office; and Rev. Maurice Blanchard and his partner Dominique James, who have lived together 10 years and were cited for trespassing when they refused to leave the clerk's office after being denied a license on Jan. 23, 2013.

The couples say they have been waiting for this day. Blanchard and James said they are already married in the eyes of God and Tuesday's ruling was more about civil rights for them.

"I am elated, absolutely on cloud nine," said Blanchard.

"So hard to believe, but in my heart I knew we needed to be treated equally," said James.

"I can appreciate the historic move that this is," said Love. "I never thought I would see this in my lifetime and I'm so thankful that it's happened and that I'm part of it."

Following the ruling Republican Senator Mitch McConnell released the following statement:

"The people of Kentucky voted to enshrine in our Constitution that marriage in our state is between one man and one woman. I support that position. But regardless of one's personal view on the issue, we should be able to agree that the People of Kentucky, through the democratic process, should have the authority to determine the meaning of this bedrock institution in our society."

Governor Steve Beshear also released a statement on the issue:

"Now that Judge Heyburn has issued his opinion on this portion of the case, we will be appealing the decision so that the matter is fully before the Sixth Circuit, where these same issues from other states are already scheduled to be decided by the Sixth Circuit."

When and even if, same sex couples will actually be able to get married is still up in the air. Appeals in this and a related case will begin in August.

Copyright 2014 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.

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