Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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March 4, 2014

Ky. to use outside counsel in gay-marriage case

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said Tuesday that the state will hire outside attorneys to appeal a decision granting legal recognition to same-sex couples married in other states and countries after the attorney general announced that he would not pursue the case further.

The split legal decisions from two Democrats come four days after a federal judge in Louisville gave the state 21 days to implement a ruling overturning a voter-imposed ban on recognizing same-sex unions.

Conway said at a news conference that he decided he would not appeal the case because "I would be defending discrimination. That I will not do."

Minutes later, Beshear said in a written statement that the potential for "legal chaos is real" if a delay is not issued in the case while it is appealed. He noted litigation over gay marriage in other states and said the issue should be ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court

"Other Kentucky courts may reach different and conflicting decisions," Beshear said. "Employers, health care providers, governmental agencies and others faced with changing rules need a clear and certain roadmap. Also, people may take action based on this decision only to be placed at a disadvantage should a higher court reverse the decision." The statement said Beshear would not comment further Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn issued a Feb. 12 opinion that Kentucky's ban on recognizing same-sex marriages violated the Constitution's equal-protection clause in the 14th Amendment because it treated "gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them."

The decision arose from a lawsuit filed by two couples who were married in other states or countries over the past 10 years. The couples sought to force the state to recognize their unions as legal. Heyburn's ruling does not require the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples; that is the subject of a separate, but related lawsuit. Heyburn expects to rule on that issue by summer.

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