Kentucky Attorney General Won’t Defend State’s Gay Marriage Ban; Gov. Will Appeal with Outside Counsel

ConwayKentucky Attorney General Jack Conway (pictured) says he won't defend the state's gay marriage ban in an appeal of a federal court ruling ordering the state to recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere, the Courier-Journal reports:

“Judge Heyburn got it right,” he said at his Frankfort office.

By appealing, he 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.

The AP reports that Governor Steve Beshear will appeal the fuling with outside counsel, not the attorney general.

Late last week, Heyburn put his order that the state recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere on hold for three weeks to give the state enough time to comply. The governor had asked for 90 days.


  1. says

    If you’ve ever wondered why Kentucky is considered such a backward State or why it has the highest poverty levels in the nation then look to their elected officials – officials who will spend millions of taxpayer monies to discriminate against their own taxpayers. Hate rears its ugly bigoted head in Kentucky.

  2. Jack M says

    Well done. At the risk of hurting feelings, Kentucky is quite a backwards state indeed, and it’s good to see someone with sense in a position of influence.

  3. Francis says

    Thank you, Steve. Unfortunately the state will be appealing anyway, but at least AG Conway here showed some dignity, respect for the constitution and respect for LGBT citizens.

  4. Francis says

    Meant thank you Jack, obviously, (Jack Conway). Kentucky polled 35-55 against marriage equality about a week and a half ago, so Conway’s position is definitely a courageous one. But Governor Beshear is appealing anyway, so that’s very disappointing.

  5. anon says

    The real polling question shouldn’t be about “support” it should be about how “bitter” and “angry” residents will be should gay marriage start to happen. I doubt many of the people who don’t “support” gay marriage would on the other hand be particularly upset over it. After all, it takes a lot more effort to get worked up and angry over something than it does to just wish it didn’t happen.

  6. GreatLakeSailor says

    reality, thanks for posting that link.

    Conway handles that so so so well. All Dem Pols should watch that. He frames the decision morally – (not) defending discrimination, separation of church & state, duty to the US Constitution and the uniform application of justice.

    Well done AG Conway.

  7. says

    Bravo Jack Conway!
    This is exactly the response we hope for but so rarely get publicly. Jack did a thing today that will stay with him for the rest of his life. He took a stand against injustice. Against being a part of hurting his fellow humans and against in the bigger picture against helping to spread inhumanity.

  8. simon says

    Judge Heyburn was appointed to the federal bench by former President George H.W. Bush. No matter Democrat or Republican, all judges are activist judges.

  9. Hey Darlin' says

    “It’s about placing people over politics”

    When we lose the perspective that America is about the equality of it’s citizens and attempt to marginalize a segment of the population based on either a political or religious agenda, we have done a great disservice to America. When we deny equality based only on religious or political rationale, we have done a disservice to America.

    From his comment, Kentucky’s AG Conway knows this.

  10. TKinSC says

    A state AG should defend his state’s laws until the issue is settled. It is the responsibility of the plaintiffs to prove the law is unconstitutional, and of the federal courts to decide the matter. One’s personal opinion should not affect how he does his job.

  11. Howard B says

    @tkinsc, AG Conway has an obligation to enforce the laws and the constitution of the state of Kentucky. No one is accusing him of neglecting to enforce the laws. The question is does he have the right to not defend in court a law that he feels is unconstitutional?

    If you think about it, it’s much better to find someone to defend a law in court who truly believes in it, rather than force someone to defend the law who thinks it is unconstitutional. If you were in court on trial, would you want a lawyer who believed in your innocence or a lawyer who thought you were guilty and was just going through the motions?

    So long as AG Conway is enforcing all the duly enacted laws in Kentucky then I don’t see a problem with him not defending the law in court. If it really needs defending then the Governor can find someone else to defend this in court.

  12. bobbi says

    > Kentucky is considered such a backward State
    > […] why it has the highest poverty levels in the nation

    You *REALLY* should run a spell checker before hitting “Post”!

    This is how to spell the name of the *most* uneducated, homophobic, bigoted, discriminatory, backwards, and poverty-ridden state in the union:

    M I S S I S S I P P I.

  13. bobbi says

    > But Governor Beshear is appealing anyway


    With “Enemies like Governor Beshear, gays need no friends.”

    The governor intends to prove that married couples with cease sex if gays can marry.

    Good luck making that argument with a straight face, Governor Beshear!

    Good luck passing the laugh test with that arugment, Governor Beshear!

  14. bobbi says

    > A Democrat should know better!

    He does.

    His lawyers filed their “rebuttal” with their fingers crossed behind their back.

    > Very disappointed in Beshear.


    His brief is a HUGE “Neener-Neener!” to all the bigots opposing marriage equality.

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