The ruling issued by federal judge John Heyburn in the case of Bourke v. Beshear was a watershed event in the ongoing battle for marriage equality in the United States. For the first time in the South, laws prohibiting the recognition of same sex-marriages as valid were struck down. (Yesterday, a judge in Virginia also struck down that state's gay marriage ban, so the tide has officially turned in the South.)
Judge Heyburn's ruling doesn't necessarily make it possible for Kentucky same-sex couples to receive marriage licenses in their own state, however. The initial plaintiffs in Bourke v. Beshear were already married in other states and in Canada. They simply sought recognition of their valid marriages, not to actually be married in their home state of Kentucky.
With that issue still unaddressed, today we filed a Motion to Intervene on behalf of two new Kentucky couples who aren't already married and who want to be married in their home state. This Motion, made under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24, gives the court discretion to allow additional parties to join an already-existing lawsuit. The court weighs certain factors when considering such a motion, such as whether all the parties have similar claims or concerns, if the law that governs both claims is the same, and other factors such as time, expense, and the risk of conflicting opinions should separate lawsuits be pursued.
With Judge Heyburn's ruling still not final, the new plaintiffs are hoping that the court will grant their motion to intervene and decide the entire question of same-sex marriage in Kentucky once and for all.