The attorney general of Kentucky is, like several others around the country, refusing to defend that state’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. Now Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, is going to hire private attorneys to appeal the district court ruling striking it down.
Two of Kentucky’s top Democrats split sharply Tuesday over same-sex marriage, with Gov. Steve Beshear saying outside lawyers will be hired to appeal a decision granting recognition to gay couples married in other states after the attorney general announced he would not pursue the case.
The high-level intraparty divide — illustrating the rapid spread of the gay-marriage debate into America’s conservative heartland — came four days after a federal judge in Louisville gave Kentucky 21 days to implement a ruling that overturned a ban on recognizing same-sex unions. Voters overwhelmingly approved the ban in 2004.
Attorney General Jack Conway choked up with emotion at a news conference announcing he would not appeal the ruling.
“I would be defending discrimination,” Conway said. “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 granted while the case is appealed. He noted that litigation over gay marriage is pending in many other states and said the issue ultimately should be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
And it will be, whether Kentucky appeals or not, though this case differ from the several other cases that directly implicate the question of whether the state must allow same-sex marriages inside the state.