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Reuters, Published March 04 2014

Kentucky will not appeal same-sex marriage ruling

Kentucky will not appeal a U.S. federal court ruling that orders it to recognize the legal same-sex marriages of residents who wed elsewhere, state Attorney General Jack Conway told reporters on Tuesday.

Conway said a decision made last month by a federal judge was correct and an appeal would be tantamount to defending discrimination.

"It's about placing people above politics," he said at his office in Frankfort.

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled on Feb. 27 that Kentucky laws that deny the marriages of same-sex couples "violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and they are void and unenforceable."

The decision was part of a string of court victories for gay rights advocates, who are trying to overturn bans on same-sex marriage that are on the books in every state in the deep South.

Seventeen U.S. states and the District of Columbia recognize gay marriage. The trend has gained pace since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that legally married same-sex couples nationwide are eligible for federal benefits.