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Kentucky’s Governor Beshear seeks to extend stay of district court order in marriage equality case

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Kentucky state sealKentucky’s Governor Steve Beshear has asked a district court judge to extend the stay of his order requiring the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed outside of the state. The governor wants the stay extended pending his appeal of the case to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The judge had initially given state officials 21 days to implement the court’s order requiring marriage recognition for purposes of deciding whether to appeal the order or implement it fully. The state had initially asked for 90 days, but the judge only approved a 21 day stay. If granted, the new stay request would mean that the order wouldn’t go into effect until all appeals in the case are final. State officials wouldn’t have to recognize same-sex marriages performed outside the state as legal until and unless the Sixth Circuit upholds the district court’s decision.

Since the initial order from the judge, which only applied to recognition of marriages performed outside Kentucky and did not apply to the state’s marriage ban itself, new plaintiffs sought and were granted intervention to challenge the ban. Those proceedings are ongoing: no opinion or order has been issued as to couples seeking to marry in Kentucky. Briefing on that issue will be concluded by May 28, and the new request for a stay will not affect that aspect of the case.

The state will be represented by outside counsel, and not its own attorneys. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has declined to appeal the district court’s decision, although Governor Beshear has stated his intention to appeal “no later than March 18, 2014 or upon the district court’s ruling [on the stay request.]”

Thanks to Kathleen Perrin for these filings

For more information on Love v. Beshear (formerly Bourke v. Beshear) from The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, click here.


  • 1. FYoung  |  March 17, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    On Kentucky's Great Seal, are those two men slow-dancing together?

  • 2. Dann  |  March 17, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    High school dance. Lol

  • 3. Eric  |  March 17, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    It is a soon to be cake topper.

  • 4. davep  |  March 17, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    Awesome : ) I bet it's going to make an appearance on a lot of wedding invitations in the near future too.

  • 5. Ragavendran  |  March 17, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Judge Heyburn has been busy today! First, the plaintiffs filed their opposition to the State's request to extend the stay pending final disposition of its yet-to-be-filed appeal with the Sixth Circuit. The filing is here. They make a pretty strong case, except for Section V, which I'm not so sure about. Any legal analysts here who can talk to whether SCOTUS's decision to grant the stay in Kitchen is still binding here? Next, he has held a telephone conference to discuss the motion to stay this afternoon. I guess he'll act tomorrow on the stay motion.

  • 6. Reformed  |  March 17, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    When an attorney general decides not to defend or appeal, they must be favor of equality. Why are they in such a hurry to announce it. Why not hold the cards close and not file by a deadline? Seems like sympathetic attorneys general could be a lot more influential in the march to equality, justice, and constitutional rights if the would just use some intrepid lawyering. Must be a reason however, anyone know the answer?

  • 7. bayareajohn  |  March 18, 2014 at 12:18 am

    For a lawyer to place his employer in an indefensible position through deliberate inaction is malpractice, and subject to firing, disbarment, and damages suits. An Attorney General is breaching their fiduciary oath if they force her own agenda through subterfuge.

  • 8. Samantha  |  March 18, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Actually the AG went to court, the Judge made a determination and the AG said he would not appeal the decision because it cant be won. He made a proper legal opinion. The Governor is choosing not to follow that legal opinion and to continue to pursue the case on his own. This happens quite frequently in private lawsuits where lawyers will not continue to take a clients money to do an appeal of a case that cant win, the client drops them and finds new counsel. The AG is responsible to the people whos money is being wasted by this frivolous appeal.

  • 9. bayareajohn  |  March 18, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Agreed, the AG did exactly as his duty required. But "Reformed" was suggesting that the AG just do a "pocket veto" and let the case lapse… I was answering why malpractice is not "intrepid lawyering".

  • 10. Ragavendran  |  March 18, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Tired of waiting for Judge Heyburn to act on its motion to stay pending appeal, the State has now filed a notice of appeal with the district court, reports PACER.

  • 11. Ragavendran  |  March 19, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    Stay pending appeal granted:

    From the article:

    With his stay about to expire Thursday, U.S. District Judge John Heyburn II said that while Gov. Steve Beshear’s lawyers hadn’t shown they are likely to win on appeal, it is “best that these momentous changes occur with full review, rather than risk premature implementation or confusing changes. That does not serve anyone well.”

    But in his opinion, Heyburn expressed sympathy for the plaintiffs, saying it may be difficult to understand “how rights won can be delayed.”

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