LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Gay marriage advocates nationwide heralded the ruling striking down deeply conservative Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage as a significant milestone, though matrimonies won't begin in earnest there anytime soon.
Tuesday's ruling by a federal judge, which said Kentucky's ban violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, was put on hold because similar cases from other states are being heard by a federal appeals court. It's unclear when Kentucky may begin issuing marriage licenses.
It's a conundrum that's played out nationwide in the fight to legalize gay marriage: The rulings mark a significant shift as rulings in favor of gay marriage pile up, but confusion emerges as to when those marriages can begin. In Wisconsin, for example, same-sex couples had a window of about a week to get married before a judge ordered officials to stop issuing them marriage licenses. And in Utah, more than 1,000 couples who rushed to marry after a judge overturned that state's ban will have to keep waiting for many legal benefits of being married.
For now, lead plaintiff Timothy Love of Louisville said he will celebrate the latest victory with his partner of 34 years, 55-year-old Larry Ysunza.
"It's a win and we're going to win in the end. Now, the headline is 'Love Wins,'" Love said Tuesday afternoon.
He also said he anticipated a wait: "We all probably have to wait until the Supreme Court makes its decision" on gay marriage bans across the nation.
In the Kentucky case, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II concluded that the state's prohibition on same-sex couples being wed violates the Equal Protection Clause 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 he put the implementation of that ruling on hold.