Beshear: Son's candidacy for attorney general not tied to appeal of gay-marriage ruling

jbrammer@herald-leader.comMarch 5, 2014 

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear said Wednesday his son, Andrew Beshear, a candidate for attorney general in 2015, played no role in his decision to appeal a federal judge's ruling that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries.

"Absolutely not," Beshear said at a hastily called news conference in the Capitol when asked about his son's candidacy and the governor's decision to appeal the controversial order by U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II in Louisville.

Beshear said he informed his son of his decision after he made it.

"My decision was not a political decision," said Beshear. "It was a decision that I made as governor to make sure that if a big change like this is going to occur, that it occurs in an orderly fashion.

"We owe that to the individuals involved; we owe that to employers, to health care providers, to governmental agencies and to a lot of other folks who will be affected by a decision like this."

Andy Beshear, a Louisville attorney, filed papers in November with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance for his Democratic candidacy for attorney general in 2015.

He said in an email Wednesday, "Based on the decisions, the Commonwealth is still an active party to a case involving interpretations of the Kentucky and United States Constitutions.

"Should I have the honor of serving as Kentucky's next attorney general, I will undoubtedly be asked to provide a legal opinion on this issue. It would therefore be inappropriate to comment at this time, as doing so could later raise issues of recusal."

Attorney General Jack Conway, who cannot seek re-election in 2015 because of term limits, said at a news conference minutes after Beshear's that politics was "not the overriding factor" in his decision not to appeal the federal judge's ruling.

Because Conway will not represent the state in the appeal, the governor will have to hire an outside attorney in the case.

Conway said it would be disingenuous for him to say he didn't consider how his decision might affect his expected candidacy to run for governor in 2015. He said he doesn't expect his decision to hurt his political future.

Conway also said he was "guilty" of displaying too much emotion in his Tuesday news conference to announce his decision not to appeal. He shed tears during part of it.

Both Beshear and Conway were asked Wednesday their opinion of same-sex marriage.

Beshear said he couldn't comment because the issue is under litigation. Conway said he approves because everyone should have equal access under the law.

Beshear said the only way this issue is going to be resolved is by a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court.

He said he respected Conway's decision. "I have friends obviously on both sides of this issue," he said. "Frankly, what I'm doing in appealing this case is on behalf of both sets of those friends because they all deserve to know what the rules are going to be."

Beshear also said, "We're not out here to demagogue this issue at all. What we are out here to do is to find what the law is going to be in the United States of America. This is quickest way I know to get it done."

Conway said he and the governor "simply disagree" on appealing, and "I feel strongly about my decision.

"I slept well last night."

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: Bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com.

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