Conway says federal judge ‘got it right’
FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 4, 2014) – The state plans to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that struck down Kentucky’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages performed in states where it is legal, Gov. Steve Beshear said this morning. Attorney General Jack Conway will not be representing the state in an appeal, however.
Conway said today that he has evaluated U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn’s legal analysis and that he will not appeal the decision.
“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,” Conway said.
“There are those who believe it’s my mandatory duty, regardless of my personal opinion, to continue to defend this case through the appellate process, and I have heard from many of them. However, I came to the inescapable conclusion that, if I did so, I would be defending discrimination,” he added. “That I will not do. As Attorney General of Kentucky, I must draw the line when it comes to discrimination.”
The state will hire other counsel to represent it in the case, and will appeal U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn’s decision to the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and ask the court to enter a stay pending appeal, Beshear said.
The governor’s statement is below:
“The question of whether state constitutional provisions prohibiting same sex marriage violate the U.S. Constitution is being litigated across the country. Here in Kentucky, Judge Heyburn has ruled that Kentucky’s constitutional provision does so to the extent that same sex marriages legally performed elsewhere are not recognized in Kentucky. Judge Heyburn also currently has under consideration the broader question of whether Kentucky’s provision prohibiting same sex marriage in Kentucky violates the U.S. Constitution, and I anticipate that decision in the near future.
Both of these issues, as well as similar issues being litigated in other parts of the country, will be and should be ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in order to bring finality and certainty to this matter. The people of this country need to know what the rules will be going forward. Kentucky should be a part of this process.
In every other appeal currently in process, a stay has been entered maintaining the status quo until a final decision is reached on appeal. The reason is obvious. Without a stay in place, the opportunity for legal chaos is real. Other Kentucky courts may reach different and conflicting decisions. There is already a lawsuit underway in Franklin Circuit Court, and other lawsuits in state and federal courts are possible. 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.
I understand and respect the deep and strong emotions and sincere beliefs of Kentuckians on both sides of this issue, but all Kentuckians deserve an orderly process that will bring certainty and finality to this important matter.”