Kentucky AG Won’t Defend State’s Ban on Marriage Equality
Gov. Beshear to hire outside counsel to appeal judge’s ruling against marriage ban
WASHINGTON - Today Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway announced he will not appeal a judge’s order to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states or jurisdictions. Instead, Governor Steve Beshear will hire outside counsel to appeal the ruling. Last month U.S. District Court Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled that Kentucky ’s marriage amendment violates the constitutional principal of equal protection and that the Commonwealth cannot refuse to recognize valid same-sex marriages conducted in other states. The judge, who was appointed to the bench by President George H. W. Bush, sided with four plaintiff couples who had legally married elsewhere before seeking state recognition in Kentucky.
“Attorney General Conway has sent a strong message that discrimination is indefensible,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin. “With each passing day we are one step closer to full marriage equality in America, and Kentucky should not stand in the way of our march toward justice. It would be wrong to waste taxpayer dollars defending Kentucky’s archaic ban on marriage equality.”
Once it is officially appealed, the Kentucky case joins other federal court cases in Utah, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia and Texas—all of which are currently at the appellate level. Currently 29 states have constitutional amendments restricting marriage to one man and one woman. Same-sex couples can legally marry in 17 states and Washington, DC.
Attorney General Conway joins the attorneys general of California, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Virginia, as well the Attorney General of the United States, in concluding that discriminatory marriage laws are inconsistent with the guarantees of the U.S. Constitution.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.