Kentucky to use outside counsel in gay-marriage case

By Brett Barrouquere/AP, Published:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said Tuesday that the state will hire outside attorneys to appeal a decision granting legal recognition to same-sex couples married in other states and countries after the attorney general announced that he would not pursue the case further.

The split legal decisions from two Democrats come four days after a federal judge in Louisville gave the state 21 days to implement a ruling overturning a voter-imposed ban on recognizing same-sex unions.

Conway said at a news conference that he decided he would not appeal the case because "I would be defending discrimination. That I will not do."

Minutes later, Beshear said in a written statement that the potential for "legal chaos is real" if a delay is not issued in the case while it is appealed. He noted litigation over gay marriage in other states and said the issue should be ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court

"Other Kentucky courts may reach different and conflicting decisions," Beshear said. "Employers, health care providers, governmental agencies and others faced with changing rules need a clear and certain roadmap. Also, people may take action based on this decision only to be placed at a disadvantage should a higher court reverse the decision." The statement said Beshear would not comment further Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn issued a Feb. 12 opinion that Kentucky's ban on recognizing same-sex marriages violated the Constitution's equal-protection clause in the 14th Amendment because it treated "gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them."

The decision arose from a lawsuit filed by two couples who were married in other states or countries over the past 10 years. The couples sought to force the state to recognize their unions as legal. Heyburn's ruling does not require the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples; that is the subject of a separate, but related lawsuit. Heyburn expects to rule on that issue by summer.

Unless a higher court steps in and stops enforcement of the ruling, the state will have to allow same-sex couples married outside the state to change their names on official identifications and documents and obtain any other benefits of a married couple in Kentucky.

Laura Landenwich, who represents several of the plaintiffs, called Beshear's move "a political stunt designed to cull favor" for any future run for office.

"A true failure in leadership, and a waste of taxpayer dollars for the exclusive benefit of these politicians," Landenwich said.

Dawn Elliott, another attorney representing the plaintiffs, said any appeal is unlikely to be successful, no matter who argues the case for the state. "The legal analysis is the same," Elliott said.

Martin Cothran, a spokesman for The Family Foundation of Kentucky, which opposes same-sex marriage, charged Conway with "spiking the case" by not offering up a stronger defense.

Conway, who said he consulted with Beshear and state lawmakers, said he prayed over the decision.

"In the end, this issue is really larger than any single person and it's about placing people above politics," Conway said. "For those who disagree, I can only say that I am doing what I think is right."

The decision in the socially conservative state comes against the backdrop of similar rulings or actions in other states where same-sex couples have long fought for the right to marry. Kentucky's constitutional ban was approved by voters in 2004 and included the out-of-state clause.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits. Since then, a federal judge in Texas last week struck down that state's gay marriage ban but immediately delayed the implementation of his ruling pending appeals by the state. In January, the U.S. Supreme Court put a hold on a decision in Utah recognizing same-sex marriages.

Attorneys general have increasingly taken supportive roles in the movement to legalize gay marriage, despite their duty to defend state law. In Virginia, Attorney General Mark Herring announced in January that he would not defend a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. Fellow Democrat Gov. Terry McAuliffe rebuffed calls to appoint outside council. In that case, defense of the ban fell to the legal team of the Circuit Court in Norfolk, where a suit challenging the law had been filed. A judge declared the ban unconstitutional. The decision was stayed while it undergoes the appeals process.

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  • Legion

    May all your kids and grandkids (in the unlikely event you manage to reproduce) be... wait for it... Christian.

    Indeed, there is even hope for you.

    I will even say a prayer for you.

    Isn't that just awful?

  • Dear Genius

    Presumably if all my kids were gay, I would have no grandkids.

    If a person does not accord equal regard to sodomites, then Legion will hate him.  Legion will hate the dissenter so much that Legion would will that the dissenter's entire line die out.  What a hypocrite.

    Talk about forcing one's values on someone else!  Sheesh!

    Legion, segregation wasn't abomination.

    What you are defending is abomination.

     

  • What a waste of taxpayer's $$$. Gov agrees with Conway, but is providing political cover for House Democrats...plain and simple. 

     

  • correction, the software dropped out a sentence...sorry!

    Legion, March 5, 2014 8:59AM

    33687: "However, it is fustrating to have the "The WIll Of The People" nulified by the courts."

    What "will of the people" are you referring to?

    Ya' know, once upon a time not too long ago, the will of the people of KY included slavery, Jim Crow, institutionalized discrimination, seperate but unequal, denial of service in public places, etc., all based upon the amount of melanin in one's skin (not a choice).  If it hadn't been for the courts we woulld still have these true abominations based upon one's race.  Today this same ugli thinking has morphed into descrimination based on nothing more than the way that someone likes to have organisms.  Talk about religion using the heavy hand of the law to control other people's personal lives to make them conform to their dogma!  The heavy hand of REALLY BIG government has no business in our bedrooms!  This is just an offshoot to the "we don't serve negroes here" mentality.

  • 33687: "However, it is fustrating to have the "The WIll Of The People" nulified by the courts."

    What "will of the people" are you referring to?

    Ya' know, once upon a time not too long ago, the will of the people of KY included slavery, Jim Crow, institutionalized discrimination, seperate but unequal, denial of service in public places, etc., all based upon the amount of melanin in one's skin (not a choice).  If it hadn't been for the courts we woulld still have these true abominations based upon nothing more than the way that someone likes to have organisms.  Talk about religion using the heavy hand of the law to control other people's personal lives to make them conform to their dogma!  This is just an offshoot to the "we don't serve negroes here" mentality.

  • robert1, may all of your kids and grandkids be gay!

  • anonymous_1839, March 4, 2014 3:46PM

    "Of course it will be an unsuccessful appeal, but another way for Steve to funnel tax money to his attorney 'friends'."

    This has much more to do with the good governor's religous affilitations than his attorney friends.  And as far as it being an unsuccessful appeal, you obviously are not familiar with the KY Supreme Court.

  • I think the Governor needs to quit looking for ways to spend money and start giving Merit Increments back to State Employees.  As long as he keeps throwing money here and there for this project or that project...They'll never get the Increments that they are supposedly to get be law.  Did they ever even vote on this issue in the House/Senate?  State Moral is so low.  Everyone I know is looking for a way out!

  • I am divided on this... Every State is loosing on this, so I completely agree that it is a waste of my Tax Dollars to fight this paying law firms to fight. 

    However, it is fustrating to have the "The WIll Of The People" nulified by the courts. 

    The Federal & State Governments, Insurance, and other business are going to eventually do away with married tax breaks, they are going to loose revenue by having to recognize same sex marriages as families. 

    All the more reason for national sales or flat tax with no exemptions no deductions, everyones pay at the regisiter.

     

     

     

  • The Governor apparently understands his duty whereas the Attorney General does not.  If the latter "will not do" it, then he should be impeached.

    The essence of governance is discrimination.  The fact is that a community has every right—and their elected officials have every duty to uphold this right—to define itself.  Such a right of self-definition intrinsically includes discrimination.  The right to exclude.  Particularly when one is talking about sodomite so-called “marriage.”

    The Governor, he IS doing the right thing.  Apparently that is why he is doing it.

  • Of course it will be an unsuccessful appeal, but another way for Steve to funnel tax money to his attorney 'friends'.

  • "Conway said at a news conference that he decided he would not appeal the case because "I would be defending discrimination. That I will not do.""

    Conway and deGustibus are right on here!  What a waste of time and money!  

  • I hope the governor is going to pay for this waste of taxpayer dollars out of his own pocket. This ranks right up with counties and the legislature spending tens of thousands on ten commandment cases which they know they will lose. Beshear is not going to be running again, so why not do the right thing.