Kentucky leaders go in opposite directions on same-sex marriage appeal
March 4th, 2014
03:20 PM ET
10 months ago

Kentucky leaders go in opposite directions on same-sex marriage appeal

(CNN) - Kentucky's governor will hire outside lawyers to appeal a federal judge's ruling on same-sex marriage, after the state attorney tearfully refused Tuesday to take part in further legal challenges.

The ruling requires officials to formally recognize legal marriages among gays and lesbians performed outside the state.

Defining marriage in Kentucky and elsewhere "will be and should be ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in order to bring finality and certainty to this matter," Gov. Steven Beshear said in a statement.

"The people of this country need to know what the rules will be going forward. Kentucky should be a part of this process," the Democrat added.

Beshear will now ask a federal appeals court in Cincinnati to stay enforcement of the ruling until it is fully decided.

District Judge John Heyburn blocked his own order from taking effect until at least March 20.

"Without a stay in place, the opportunity for legal chaos is real," said the governor.

Beshear’s action came minutes after his top law enforcement officer issued an emotional defense of same-sex marriage.

"From a constitutional perspective, Judge Heyburn got it right, and in light of other recent federal decisions, these laws will not likely survive upon appeal. We cannot waste the resources of the Office of the Attorney General pursuing a case we are unlikely to win," said Jack Conway, also a Democrat.

"I came to the inescapable conclusion that, if I did so, I would be defending discrimination. That I will not do. As Attorney General of Kentucky, I must draw the line when it comes to discrimination," he said.

Conway began crying while saying he was "doing what I think is right," something he would be proud of, for him and his young children.

He becomes the latest state attorney general to back gay rights in the face of recent court rulings, joining counterparts in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Nevada, and Oregon– as well as the Obama administration.

Groups supporting "traditional" marriage criticized Conway's decision.

"It is absurd that Kentucky's attorney general, Jack Conway, is not doing what he swore to do upon taking office– defending the laws and constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the judgment of the Kentucky's citizens who voted overwhelmingly on this issue," said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. "We hope that voters hold him to account for abandoning his sworn duty."

Heyburn last month concluded Kentucky's 16-year-old laws "violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and they are void and unenforceable."

Supporters applauded the decision.

"A growing bipartisan majority of Americans know it is wrong to deny anyone the freedom to marry the person they love," said Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry. "With a marriage case potentially making it to the Supreme Court as soon as 2015, we must continue to make the case across the country that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry."

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia recognize the rights of homosexual couples to wed.

The political and legal momentum has only grown since the Supreme Court in June struck down a key part of a congressional law that did not recognize same-sex unions for federal purposes, meaning legally married gay and lesbians could not enjoy certain government benefits, like tax breaks.

Since then, federal and state courts in Utah, Virginia, Kentucky Oklahoma, Texas, New Jersey, and New Mexico have ruled similar state ban violate the U.S. Constitution, or allowed such marriages to begin.

The case is Love v. Beshear.


Filed under: Kentucky • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. The Real Tom Paine

    This should be fun.

    March 4, 2014 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  2. TedCruz

    Appalachians are regressive.

    March 4, 2014 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  3. Silence DoGood

    Let's see who the real libertarian/independents are (leave people to decide who to marry) and who the conservative theocracy folks are (tell you who not to marry).

    March 4, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  4. Akira

    Marriage should be recognized in all states. I'm still legally married no matter where I go; everyone should have that same right. It's common sense.

    March 4, 2014 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  5. Chris-E...al

    They sure do waste alot of time on maybe one percent of the population ! As our nation heaves !

    March 4, 2014 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  6. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    " As Attorney General of Kentucky, I must draw the line when it comes to discrimination,"
    -----------------------------------------
    As a human being, everyone must draw a line when it comes to discrimination. You should check the morality of people who advocate for bills like 1062 and voter surpression laws.

    March 4, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  7. The Real Tom Paine

    -"It is absurd that Kentucky's attorney general, Jack Conway, is not doing what he swore to do upon taking office– defending the laws and constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the judgment of the Kentucky's citizens who voted overwhelmingly on this issue," said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. "We hope that voters hold him to account for abandoning his sworn duty."

    Heyburn last month concluded Kentucky's 16-year-old laws "violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and they are void and unenforceable."
    ***************
    I wonder when someone is going to start arguing that a state constitution overrides the precedents of the federal Constitution?

    March 4, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  8. salty dog

    Well, there is a law banning you from marrying your sister in Kentucky.

    March 4, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  9. The Real Tom Paine

    -Chris-E...al

    They sure do waste alot of time on maybe one percent of the population ! As our nation heaves !
    ***********************
    I'm sorry, this is not an article about the NRA's membership. However, I would like to know where you think that only 1% of our population is gay.

    March 4, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  10. don in albuquerque

    Well Chris-E you are sure right this time. We waste alot of time on the one or two per cent. Like the time we waste on the rich (not to mention all the tax freebies they get, talk about welfare, huh), the one or two percent that lost their worthless health insurance scams (but still not smart enough too see they got scammed in the first place). Of course all the GOTP can do is cry about "class war fare, and you can keep your insurance (even if it was worthless). Our nation should be heaving. And then there is the amount we spend on the military–ain't that kick in they head. They haven't been able to win a war since WWII (oh, they did invade a little island with an army of 50 and two goats, and shouted Victory.) Spend more then the next ten countries combined. Yep. The good ole' USA is a real piece of work.

    March 4, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  11. Bigd9749

    Salty if there is they don't enforce it

    March 4, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    I welcome tom l's input on this issue.

    March 4, 2014 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  13. Silence DoGood

    @Chris-E...al
    They sure do waste alot of time on maybe one percent of the population ! As our nation heaves !
    ----------
    Perhaps you have seen photos of the national guard watching over a few black students walking into class in Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement. That is how the USA works. It is called "Liberty and Justice for All".

    March 4, 2014 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  14. smith

    Get rid of marriage, problem solved.

    March 4, 2014 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |