Attorney General Jack Conway
Attorney General Jack Conway

Just minutes after Attorney General Jack Conway announced he will not appeal a ruling requiring Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages, Gov. Steve Beshear announced he will hire outside counsel to wage that fight.

Insider Louisville was on the phone with Dan Canon, attorney for the plaintiffs in Bourke v. Beshear, when he received word of the governor’s plans to appeal without Conway.

After unleashing a string of expletives, Canon said, “Fifteen minutes ago, I would have said same-sex marriages would be recognized by next month. At this point it could be months or years.

“It’s disappointing, but I don’t know that I’m surprised by it. I think it’s dreadfully irresponsible to spend potentially hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to appeal this.”

Last week, U.S. District Judge John Heyburn II issued a final order in Bourke v. Beshearthe groundbreaking same-sex marriage case that would have made his early-February ruling law. On Friday, the state sought a 90-day stay, arguing the commonwealth needed time to “provide advice to state and local officials for implementation of the order.” In response, Hepburn agreed to give the state until March 20 to begin abiding by the new law.

“From a constitutional perspective, Judge Heyburn got it right,” a tearful Conway said during this morning’s press conference. In addition to suggesting that further action by the state would be “a waste of resources,” Conway said that by appealing the order, “I would be defending discrimination. That I will not do … The United States Constitution is designed to protect everyone’s rights.”

In the end, Conway said, “This is about placing people over politics.”

The governor, it seems, disagrees.

According to Canon, governors in several other states have taken a similar course of action in hiring outside lawyers to appeal federal same-sex marriage rulings. Given what’s transpired in those cases, Canon expects outside counsel would request a stay, meaning the March 20 enforcement date would be null and void pending appeal.

“It looks like they will spend a lot of taxpayer money to bring in an outside law firm to defend what is basically indefensible,” said Canon, who plans to meet with his clients later today.

Canon and fellow attorneys with Louisville-based Clay, Daniel, Walton and Adams are representing Gregory Bourke and Michael Deleon of Louisville, who were married Canada in 2004; Jimmy Meade and Luther Barlowe, of Bardstown, who were married in Davenport, Iowa, in 2009; Randell Johnson and Paul Campion of Louisville, who were married in Riverside, Calif., in 2008; and Kimberly Franklin and Tamera Boyd of Cropper, Ky. They were married in Stratford, Conn., in 2010.

Sarah Kelley has spent the past 15 years in journalism, pursuing a wide range of stories — from covering federal courts in Washington, D.C., including the trials of 9/11 terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui and former vice presidential Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, to investigating prosecutorial misconduct in capital cases in Nashville, Tenn. In 2008, Sarah returned to her native Louisville to work for LEO Weekly, where she served as editor until 2013. Email Sarah at [email protected]


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