Tennessee's governor is asking a federal judge to put her ruling requiring the state to recognize the marriages of three same-sex couples on hold while a higher court weighs in on the case.
Gov. Bill Haslam and state Attorney General Robert Cooper on Tuesday filed a motion saying overturning the law without an appeals court reviewing the case "frustrates the will of the people of Tennessee." Haslam and Cooper say leaving the status quo in place pending an appeals court decision would not harm the three couples who sued for recognition.
U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger on Friday ordered the state to recognize the unions of the couples, who were married in other states.
Trauger made clear that her order is temporary and applies only to the three couples.
What insurers offer to spouses in a traditional marriage, they must make available to same-sex couples, the federal government said Friday.
The change means that same-sex couples, who haven't been able to buy family health policies, will be able to do so now.
"It's a big deal," says Katie Keith, director of research at the Trimpa Group, a consulting firm that works on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. "If you identify as married, it's hard to stomach that you can't get family coverage."
The third federal lawsuit this month has been filed against Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban.
The latest suit was filed Friday by 13 people who argue the Indiana law violates their Constitutional rights. Several media outlets are reporting that the latest challenge involves a widow whose same-sex marriage is not recognized by the Hoosier State, as well as gay couples who married in other states or who would like to wed in Indiana.
Friday’s lawsuit is the second this week against Indiana’s gay marriage ban, and is part of a national trend of legal action against state laws banning same-sex marriages.
The national ACLU and the group’s Indiana chapter are representing the plaintiffs, and argue current state law unconstitutionally denies same-sex couples the benefits given to heterosexual couples when they marry.
Some Indiana lawmakers are in favor of putting before voters a state constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriages.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear signed a $100,000 contract with a private law firm from Ashland to represent him in appealing a judge's decision allowing state recognition of same-sex marriages.
Beshear announced Thursday that the state reached the deal with the firm of VanAntwerp, Monge, Jones, Edwards & McCann. The 11-member practice also has an office in Frankfort.
The attorneys will handle Beshear's appeal of a decision to overturn parts of a 2004 state constitutional amendment that barred recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries.
Unless a federal appeals court steps in and halts the ruling, the state will have to start allowing same-sex couples to change their names on official identifications and documents and obtain any other benefits of a married couple in Kentucky on March 20.
Gov. Steve Beshear says his appeal of a judge's order to recognize same-sex marriages is meant to clarify the law. Beshear acknowledges that marriage equality supporters are disappointed with his decision to mount an appeal, even though Attorney General Jack Conway has opted not to.
Beshear says the appeal is needed to get the matter settled as quickly as possible and without Conway on the case, Beshear has sent out a request for proposals for attorneys to handle the state’s appeal.
While he refuses to state his personal opinion on gay marriage, Beshear contends that an appeal is the quickest way to get the matter settled, and that he and Conway simply reached different conclusions.
“We had a lot of conversations about this issue, and as I said, he wrestled with it, and I wrestled with it,” said Beshear. “We ended up coming to different conclusions. And I respect the decision he made, and I think he respects mine.”
Clerks across Kentucky are awaiting legal guidance on when and how to handle requests for name changes and other legal benefits of marriage from same-sex couples a day after a federal judge officially struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
Jefferson County clerk's spokesman Nore Ghibaudy says as of Friday state officials have offered no notice that the law has changed.
U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II is scheduled to meet with attorneys in the case Friday afternoon about a request by the Kentucky attorney general's office to delay the ruling overturning the ban.
Attorneys for one couple say two of their clients went to a Department of Motor Vehicles office in Bardstown earlier in the day for a name change and were turned away.
A Republican state senator says he intends to file a bill that would permit a third-party to appeal a ruling that says Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.
Sen. Dan Seum tells Kentucky Public Radio that if Attorney General Jack Conway decides not to appeal a decision by Judge John Heyburn that nullifies the state’s ban on gay marriage, his bill would allow others to do so.
“We’re looking at the potential to file legislation that would allow some other group or some other person to intervene in the ruling other than the Attorney General," the Jefferson County Republican said. "Right now, as I understand it, only the Attorney General can intervene in this case, so we would maybe look at legislation that we could actually allow someone else to do that.”
A spokeswoman for Conway’s office says that the law doesn’t need to be changed and that Conway has defended the law appropriately to date.
Conway has asked for a 90-day stay to decide whether or not to appeal the ruling, which allows out-of-state same-sex couples to be legally recognized in the state of Kentucky.
A Lexington couple is celebrating a federal judge’s final ruling that orders Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Ross Ewing has been with his partner for eight years. The couple had planned to marry this summer in New York.
“By happy coincidence, we were and still are, planning on being in New York on the first weekend in June which is our anniversary. My partner sings in Lexington Singers and they are performing in Carnegie Hall that weekend. We were just going to get married while we were up there,” explained Ewing.
Now, Ewing says the couple is thinking about waiting a little longer for the opportunity to get married in their home state. With the ruling partially lifting Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage, Ewing believes it’s only a matter of time before Kentucky fully legalizes gay marriage.
“I just cannot help but see the comparison to inter-racial marriage. That didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t happen in all 50 states simultaneously, but it happened, and I just can’t help but see the parallel.”
House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he supports a federal judge's opinion that requires Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
The Floyd County Democrat doesn't think it will affect House elections this fall, where Democrats will defend a narrow 8-seat majority over Republicans.
“Whether you like it or not, that’s what the law says. Whether you like it or not, everybody’s rights need to be recognized by the constitution in equal manner. And that’s what the court found and that’s the state of the law," Stumbo said.
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway says he is awaiting a final order in the case before he issues an opinion on the ruling or decides whether to appeal.
It was a very different time in 2004, politically and socially. George W. Bush was poised to sail into a second term in the White House. Hearings in Saddam Hussein’s war crimes trial began in earnest. And “Shrek 2” was making millions at the box office.
And Kentucky, along with 10 other states, voted to ban same-sex marriages.
Ten years ago, Kentucky's lawmakers and residents approved an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge John Heyburn knocked the legal footing out from under the measure, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause.
Heyburn's ruling only means the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed outside of Kentucky. But it looks to be a matter of time before another case comes along seeking to throw the entire amendment out.