FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) -- With a federal court order due to take effect in 16 days, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway said he will not appeal the order to recognize gay marriages from other states.
Last week, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II ordered a 21-day delay in the implementation of his ruling that Kentucky must grant legal recognition to same-sex couples married in other states or countries.
Because the federal ruling conflicts with Kentucky's constitutional ban on gay marriage, approved by voters in 2004, Conway and Governor Steve Beshear had to decide whether to appeal the order.
During a new conference Tuesday, Conway said "from a constitutional perspective Judge Heyburn got it right," and "as attorney general of Kentucky I must draw the line when it comes to discrimination."
Heyburn's ruling 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.
Congressman John Yarmuth released the following statement:
“Today, Attorney General Conway made a courageous decision to stand up for equality in Kentucky and against a discriminatory law. He gave this case the thorough analysis it required, and his conclusion will place him and our Commonwealth on the right side of history.
“The fact that Jack made this decision in the face of personal political risk underscores his strong leadership and his commitment to ensuring that all Kentucky families are treated equally under the law.”
Moments after his remarks, Gov. Steve Beshear (D-Ky) announced the state would proceed with the appeal, using outside lawyers.