Judge Heyburn Grants Further Stay of His Order Pending Resolution in Higher Courts.

Legal same-sex marriages in Kentucky will not be recognized on March 21st after all.

Breaking News, March 19, 5:40 pm

Late today, Federal District Judge John G. Heyburn issued an Order further staying his Order of Feb. 27 which found that Kentucky’s statutes and constitution prohibiting recognition of legal same-sex marriages to be unconstitutional. To allow the Commonwealth to prepare for practical administrative changes, he had already extended his Order until March 20th.

Observing that Judge Heyburn’s opinion “got it right,” Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway declined to appeal the Judge’s decision. Subsequently, Governor Steve Beshear retained outside council to make such an appeal, and it was that to which Judge Heyburn was responding today.

Judge Heyburn found merit on both sides of the argument. You can read the four-page argument here and decide yourself where the greater merit lies. Ultimately, and recognizing that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals may take years before the appeals process is completed, the Judge decided to further stay his opinion. The Judge recognized how his decision would affect the married-couple plaintiffs.

“Perhaps it is difficult for Plaintiffs to understand how rights won can be delayed. It is a truth that our judicial system can act with stunning quickness, as this Court has; and then with sometimes maddening slowness. One judge may decide a case, but ultimately others have a final say. It is the entire process, however, which gives our judicial system and our judges such high credibility and acceptance. This is the way of our Constitution. It is that belief which ultimately informs the Court’s decision to grant a stay. It is best that these momentous changes occur upon full review, rather than risk premature implementation or confusing changes. That does not serve anyone well.”

I have no doubt about the ultimate resolution of this issue. History will render its own judgements upon those who stand either in favor or in opposition to same-sex marriage. I already have.

Peter Hasselbacher
March 19, 2014