Constitutional Law

Kentucky AG won't defend same-sex marriage ruling; governor will hire outside lawyers

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Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway says he won’t appeal a federal judge’s decision requiring the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.

His decision spurred Gov. Steven Beshear to announce that he will hire outside lawyers to appeal, report the New York Times and the Lexington Herald-Leader. Conway is the seventh state attorney general to refuse to defend a ban on gay marriage, the Times says.

Conway began to cry as he announced his decision, the Herald-Leader says. Conway said he didn’t want to waste state resources in appealing the decision by U.S. District Judge John Heyburn II. “Judge Heyburn got it right,” Conway said. “The United States Constitution is designed to protect everyone’s rights, both the majority and the minority groups.”

Later Conway told a radio interviewer that his wife helped him realize his heart was not in defending the state’s ban on same-sex marriages.

“She told me, ‘Jack, you stink when you’re not being authentic,’ ” Conway said. “It’s a human issue, it’s a civil rights issue. I couldn’t stomach it.”

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