The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Kentucky to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, after the state was hit with a lawsuit filed by a lesbian couple who said they were denied the right to marry.
The decision means Kentucky will begin issuing licenses to gay couples in the next few weeks.
The ruling, issued in the case of the Rev. Dr. Stephen Ligman, came as the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the state should recognize a state constitutional amendment banning same-gender marriage.
The case also involved the state’s refusal to issue licenses to married gay couples.
The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that Kentucky’s constitutional ban on gay marriage does not apply to the state, which has been the first in the nation to enact such a ban.
A spokesman for the state Attorney General said Tuesday that he had no comment on the Supreme court ruling.
“The Kentucky state legislature is making progress to ensure that Kentucky can continue to protect the fundamental rights of its citizens,” said Gov.
The justices will hear arguments in the legal battle over Kentucky’s ban on same-marriages on Friday.
The lawsuit was filed in March by the couple, Elizabeth Taylor and Matthew Taylor, who were married in a civil ceremony at a church in the state capital of Lexington in October 2016.
In the suit, they said they felt discriminated against by Kentucky’s governor and that they were discriminated against in the way they were treated in the issuing of marriage licenses.
In addition to the lawsuit, the couple also filed a separate class-action lawsuit on behalf of other same-date couples in Kentucky.
The suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, a Kentucky-based advocacy group, and Lambda Legal, a law firm specializing in LGBTQ rights.
Both groups said in a joint statement that the decision to grant licenses to the couple should be reversed.
“It is time for Kentucky to repeal its discriminatory marriage ban and issue all licenses to all Kentucky couples in accordance with its constitution,” the ACLU said.
“Today’s decision sends a powerful message to those who want to continue to discriminate against same-gendered couples.”
Ligmen, who is also the pastor of the St. John the Baptist Church in Lexington, is the director of Lambda Kentucky, which helps Kentucky businesses and businesses across the state to become more inclusive and to comply with federal, state and local anti-discrimination laws.
He was named to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016.
The ACLU said in its statement that he is “not only an exemplary public servant, but a great human being.”
In a statement, Lambda praised the ruling.
“The Supreme Court has affirmed that there is no constitutional right to discriminate in any way in Kentucky, and the Supreme Judicial Center is pleased that the court will now allow businesses and employers across the Commonwealth to choose how to treat LGBT individuals and their families equally,” the statement said.
The two organizations are also calling on the Kentucky legislature to consider legislation to end the statewide ban on civil unions for same-couples.