Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear announced Tuesday morning the state will hire outside counsel to appeal a judicial ruling that the state must recognize same-sex marriages legally performed outside the state, The Courier Journal reported.
The announcement followed state Attorney General Jack Conway’s emotional announcement that he would not appeal U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II’s ruling and would not pursue any more stays.
“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.
Beshear’s office emailed a statement soon after the announcement saying that an outside counsel would be hired to appeal the decision and ask for a stay pending appeal.
Heyburn put enforcement of his order on hold for 20 days to allow state officials time to figure out how to implement the ruling. Conway and Gov. Steve Beshear had asked Heyburn for a 90-day reprieve.
Heyburn’s stay, announced Feb. 28, came about one hour after a hearing at which Assistant Attorney General Clay Barkley argued that the state needs to meet with local and state agencies to see what laws, rules and policies will be affected and to ensure that all 120 counties respond consistently.
Heyburn’s order to the state requiring the recognition of same-sex marriages performed out-of-state came after a Feb. 12 ruling that Kentucky laws and its constitutional amendment banning the recognition of same-sex marriages violate the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law.
He made that order final Feb. 27, meaning it was in effect briefly before the Feb. 28 stay.