Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has announced that he will not appeal the Federal District Court decision that struck down the state's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
However, Governor Steve Beshear almost immediately announced that the state will appeal the decision through outside counsel, thus rendering Conway's decision moot.
Ironically, Mitch McConnell is the first to take a public hit on the question.
As reported by the Lexington Herald-Leader:
A tearful Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway said Tuesday he will not appeal a federal judge's ruling requiring Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages from outside the state.Conway is a Democrat, but Kentucky is one of those bipolar states that has moved hard right in Federal elections while continuing to support Democrats for state office (including that of Attorney General). I'm sure that he was under no small amount of pressure to appeal the ruling, even if only on a pro forma basis. This is a gutsy stand on his part.
Conway said he prayed about the decision and decided to put "people over politics."
Governor Steve Beshear, however, almost immediately announced that the state will appeal, but that they will use outside counsel to do so:
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said the state will appeal a federal judge's order recognizing same-sex marriages performed out of state with outside counsel after state Attorney General Jack Conway said Tuesday he will not appeal. [...]It's hard to get a read on this - not only because both announcements have come within the last 90 minutes, but also because Beshear is term-limited and will be stepping down next year. It's possible that he doesn't want to leave an appeal open for future Governors. (Early polls indicate that the presumptive GOP candidate leads in public opinion.) Beshear hasn't been outspoken on the issue of marriage equality, so I'm not quite sure what to make of his action today.
Beshear issued his statement after Conway read his.
"All Kentuckians deserve an orderly process that will bring certainty and finality to this important matter," Beshear said.
The governor did not directly criticize the attorney general's decision.
Meanwhile, the first attack ad based on the decision is targeting...Mitch McConnell. Again, we go to the Herald-Leader for details:
A national Tea Party fundraising group aligned with Louisville businessman Matt Bevin plans to launch a radio ad Tuesday that blames Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for a court ruling requiring Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.I didn't know that Judge Heyburn was championed by McConnell, nor did I know that they had a political history together. Nonetheless, I tasted a bit of schadenfreude as I read about the ad. Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund going after a GOP Minority Leader? Whew.
U.S. District Judge John Heyburn II, who issued a final version of his ruling last week, was appointed by President George H.W. Bush on the recommendation of McConnell. Heyburn served as general counsel for McConnell when McConnell was Jefferson County judge-executive during the early 1980s.
"Republican voters strongly disagree with Judge Heyburn, and Senator McConnell should admit that recommending him was a mistake," the Senate Conservatives Fund said in a statement.
The group's ad also notes that Heyburn ruled in 1998 to overturn the state's ban on partial-birth abortion.
"Who recommended this liberal judge?" one actor says in the ad.
"Mitch McConnell," another actor replies.
"McConnell should admit right now that recommending Judge Heyburn was a mistake," the first actor says. "He knew this judge wasn't a conservative and promoted him anyway. Now we're stuck with gay marriage."
It will be intersting to see how this line of attack plays out against McConnell...who still sits at a 29% approval rating in Kentucky.