The US state of Kentucky must now recognise out-of-state same-sex marriages, a US District Judge ruled in a final order given yesterday.

A US federal judge earlier this month struck down a Kentucky ban on the recognition of same-sex marriages from other states.

US District Judge John G Heyburn ruled that the ban violated the guarantee of equal protection under the US Constitution.

Despite an appeal filed yesterday by the state’s Attorney General, Judge Heyburn reiterated his stance that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

“To the extent (that state laws) deny validly married same-sex couples equal recognition and benefits under Kentucky and federal law, those laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and they are void and unenforceable,” the Judge wrote in his order.

The state’s appeal was apparently ignored by Judge Heyburn, who struck down portions of a 1998 state law and a 2004 state constitutional amendment which defined marriage as specifically between one man and one woman.

The lawsuit was brought against Kentucky by four gay and lesbian couples who married out of the state.

Judge Heyburn ruled that while ”religious beliefs … are vital to the fabric of society … assigning a religious or traditional rationale for a law does not make it constitutional when that law discriminates against a class of people without other reasons.”

The ruling went on to say that “it is clear that Kentucky’s laws treat gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them.”

He also noted the US Supreme Court’s strike-down of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), in saying that a 2004 constitutional amendment specifically defining marriage as between one man and one woman would be struck down.