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Kentucky Hires Outside Counsel for Same-Sex Marriage Appeal

The Commonwealth of Kentucky has hired private legal counsel to handle all future legal proceedings related to a recent ruling by a federal judge that requires the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

Judge John Heyburn's ruling did not overturn the state's constitutional ban on such marriages, approved by voters in 2004.

Attorney General Jack Conway announced on March 4 that he would not ask for another stay on Heyburn's decision and that he would not move forward with the appeals process.

"I came to the inescapable conclusion that, if I did so, I would be defending discrimination," Conway said at the time during a news conference in which he choked up. "That I will not do. As Attorney General of Kentucky, I must draw the line when it comes to discrimination."

Governor Steve Beshear said at the time that he would seek private counsel to represent the Commonwealth as the issue moves forward. Beshear announced Thursday afternoon that after reviewing multiple responses to the search, the state had chosen to execute a contract with VanAntwerp, Monge, Jones, Edwards & McCann, LLP of Ashland.

This firm will be the state’s counsel of record for all aspects of this case going forward, including the issues still pending before Judge Heyburn.  The firm will also serve as state counsel for any separate cases involving these issues, including the pending action in Franklin Circuit Court.

"VanAntwerp, Monge, Jones, Edwards & McCann, LLP has considerable experience in arguing before federal courts, including the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and we are confident they will represent the Commonwealth well," Beshear said in a news release.