Anti-relationship recognition constitutional amendment; a federal judge has ruled that the state must respect marriages between same-sex couples legally performed in other states, and the decision is now on appeal to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, with the ruling stayed. 


On February 11, 2014, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit seeking respect for marriages between same-sex couples performed legally in other states. Shortly after, an unmarried couple in Kentucky requested to intervene in the case, arguing that same-sex couples should have the freedom to marry in Kentucky. 

Gov. Beshear sought outside counsel to appeal the ruling, since KY Attorney General Jack Conway has said that the marriage ban is indefensible and that he would not appeal Judge Heyburn's decision. The decision is now before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The ruling was in Bourke and Deleon v. Beshear, a federal lawsuit filed by private lawyers in July 2013. In a separate suit, Kentucky Equality Federation v. Beshear, private lawyers are also arguing in favor of marriage for same-sex couples. Additionally, one lawsuit invoves a married same-sex couple seeking to divorce. Read more about marriage litigation in Kentucky.

As the case makes its way up through the courts, Kentucky residents across the state will continue to do the work of having conversations about why marriage matters and creating a climate for victory. They are continuing to speak out in favor of equality, working to overturn anti-marriage laws in the state so that all same-sex couples can share in the freedom to marry.


In 2004, anti-gay forces in Kentucky pushed through Amendment 1, a constitutional amendment that excludes same-sex couples from marriage and prohibits same-sex couples from attaining any other form of legal family status. 


  • Kentucky Fairness Alliance is Kentucky's central statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights and advocacy organization.
  • Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide. 


Support for the freedom to marry has increased dramatically in the past 8 years, with 33% of the population now supporting marriage. In 2004, just 21% were supportive. (Williams Institute, 2012)    


 According to The Williams Institute's analysis of the 2010 U.S. Census, 7,195 same-sex couples are living in Kentucky, representing 4.2 same-sex couples per 1,000 households.


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Resources Related to Kentucky

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Demographic and economic information about same-sex couples and same-sex couples raising children in Kentucky.

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