Kentucky Gov appealing decision to recognize out of state same sex marriages

Kentucky Will Hire a New Lawyer After AG Refuses to Appeal Gay-Marriage Ruling

Kentucky Will Hire a New Lawyer After AG Refuses to Appeal Gay-Marriage Ruling

The Slatest
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March 4 2014 3:20 PM

Kentucky Will Hire a New Lawyer After AG Refuses to Appeal Gay-Marriage Ruling

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Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear speaks during a press conference after a closed joint whip and caucus meeting on the Affordable Care Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, December 5, 2013.

Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

The battle over same-sex marriage in Kentucky isn't over just yet. Gov. Steve Beshear announced today that he'll appeal Judge John Heyburn's recent ruling that Kentucky must recognize valid same-sex marriages performed in other states. While Beshear's decision isn't in itself a surprise, the timing of it was given it came only moments after state Attorney General Jack Conway, a fellow Democrat, gave an emotional speech saying he thought the judge's ruling was the right one, via USA Today:

"Judge Heyburn got it right," said Conway. ...
By appealing, Conway said, he would be defending discrimination "and that I will not do." Conway said he had prayed on the decision and felt he is doing what is right. He said that he was sworn to defend both the constitutions of Kentucky and the United States. "It's about placing people over politics," he said.
He began choking up at the end of the statement before leaving without taking questions.

Conway had initially asked for a 90-day delay to decide if the state would try to appeal the ruling and also to decide how to enforce the law. Given Conway no longer has any plans to appeal, Beshear will need to hire outside counsel to represent the state in federal court.

As my colleague Mark Stern explained last month, Heyburn used his preliminary ruling to stick his thumb directly in the eye of Justice Scalia, who had lamented how easy it would be to apply Windsor’s logic to state-level gay marriage bans. Elsewhere in Slate: David S. Cohen and Dahlia Lithwick discuss marriage equality's perfect record post-Windsor, and explain why gay marriage can't lose in the courts.