Ky. attorney general will not appeal same-sex marriage ruling - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ky. attorney general will not appeal same-sex marriage ruling; governor will

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Ky. Attorney General Jack Conway Ky. Attorney General Jack Conway
Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Ky. Attorney General Jack Conway says he will not appeal a ruling by a U.S. District Judge requiring Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states -- but Gov. Steve Beshear says he will, using outside counsel.

It's one step forward, and another standstill for Greg Bourke, his partner, Michael De Leon, and countless other gay couples in the Commonwealth. On Tuesday, Conway explained why he would not appeal the ruling that forces Kentucky to start recognizing some gay marriages. A short time later, Gov. Beshear announced that he would appeal.

"We went from the highest high, and a great feeling of relief, to a guarded feeling, and one of great concern," said Bourke.

"From a constitutional perspective, Judge Heyburn got it right," Conway said Tuesday morning. "As Attorney General of Kentucky, I must draw the line when it comes to discrimination."

Conway also stated that the state shouldn't "waste resources" pursuing a case it wasn't likely to win.

On Thursday, Judge Heyburn issued a final order throwing out part of the state's ban on gay marriages. The order makes official his Feb. 12 ruling that Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriages treated "gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them."

The order means same-sex couples married legally in other states or countries (like Bourke and De Leon, who were married in Canada) may change their names on official Kentucky identifications and documents and obtain any other benefits of a married couple in Kentucky, including two-parent adoption. The order doesn't affect a related lawsuit seeking to force the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

"In the end, this issue is really larger than one single person," Conway said, tearing up. "It's about placing people over politics, and for those who disagree I can only say that I am doing what I think is right."

Moments after the announcement from the Attorney General, word came from the Governor that he will hire outside counsel to continue the appeal on same-sex marriage in Kentucky.

Gov. Beshear would not comment on camera, but in a statement said gay marriage is an issue for the U.S. Supreme Court. Beshear says employers, healthcare providers, and government agencies need a clear and certain road map on change, otherwise it could create chaos.

The Family Foundation of Kentucky points to the constitutional amendment which voters passed in 2004, banning gay marriage in the state.

"What has happened here, is you have unelected federal judges taking these issues out of the democratic process and now they're deciding them," Cothran said. "You talk about fairness, that's not fair."

For Bourke and De Leon, it's more waiting.

"We've been waiting 32 years for this kind of recognition from the Commonwealth of Kentucky," Bourke said. "We've been patient, and we are content to continue to wait, but there are other families that are not so content and patient, and my heart breaks for them because I know a lot of people are hurting tonight -- a lot of LGBT families feel betrayed by our governor."

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