A federal judge has struck down Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage, ruling that gay and lesbian couples have the freedom to marry in the state.
"In America, even sincere and long-hold religious beliefs do not trump the constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted," U.S. District court Judge John G. Heyburn II wrote in the ruling.
Judge Heyburn II was appointed by President George H. W. Bush in 1992, on the recommendation of current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
"Today a Republican-appointed federal judge in Kentucky held – as have more than 20 other judges and as did the U.S. Supreme Court last year – that discriminatory state marriage bans are unconstitutional," said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry. "It is wrong for the government to deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry the person they love; a freedom that is part of every American's liberty and pursuit of happiness. Today's ruling in Kentucky underscores that America -- all of America -- is ready for the freedom to marry, and the Supreme Court should bring the country to national resolution as soon as possible."
The judge stayed the ruling pending an appeal in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court, which means same-sex weddings are not yet allowed in Kentucky.
Since last year's landmark Supreme Court decision striking down the core of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, 23 consecutive rulings have struck down state marriage bans as unconstitutional.