Judge: Kentucky Must Recognize Gay Marriages from Other States

A federal judge on Thursday ordered the state of Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The order, by Judge John G. Heyburn II, means that gay couples who were legally married elsewhere but live in Kentucky can change their names on state documents and obtain other benefits of married couples.

The state asked for a three-month delay. There was no immediate ruling on that from the judge.

The ruling does not mean that Kentucky itself can issue marriage licenses to gay couples. A separate lawsuit is before the same judge on that question. The last briefs are due in May.

An amendment to the Kentucky Constitution, approved by voters in 2004, banned recognition of gay marriage there regardless of where it was performed.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage. Oregon, like Kentucky, recognizes gay marriages legally performed elsewhere.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Texas ruled that that state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, but he suspended his own ruling until a federal appeals court can consider the matter.

— Erin McClam

The Associated Press contributed to this report.