Steve Beshear: Genuine Defender of Marriage?

By Richard Nelson

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July 15, 2014

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Will the real Steve Beshear please stand up?

The Kentucky governor received commendation from commonwealth conservatives for arguing on behalf of Kentucky’s traditional definition of marriage. But since then it has become less clear just how committed the governor is to maintaining traditional marriage.

Beshear’s attorneys were virtually laughed out of court by Judge John G. Heyburn, who rejected their arguments that same-sex marriage would undermine birth rates and threaten the economic stability of Kentucky. Heyburn scathingly wrote that such opinions “were not those of serious people.” Some conservatives at first chalked up Judge Heyburn’s conclusion as another example of the bad faith practiced towards defenders of traditional marriage. Yet there is another option to consider: Perhaps Judge Heyburn was correct and Steve Beshear’s legal team was not serious.

This option gained credibility after the Family Foundation revealed that the law firm hired by Beshear featured is made up of donors to Beshear’s campaign.  Given the fact that legalized same sex marriage is a campaign platform for the Democratic Party, it is fair to question whether Beshear’s legal team made a sufficient effort to defend traditional marriage. The argument advanced by Beshear’s attorneys is not a strong one, chiefly because it offers an economic rebuttal to a non-economic argument. There are plenty of more compelling arguments against redefining marriage. Should we believe it to be mere coincidence that the one chosen by Beshear’s supporters is not the strongest?

Hopefully the Governor’s office will speak more clearly in defense of traditional marriage on behalf of Kentucky’s voters. Governor Beshear’s duty to uphold the constitution of Kentucky supersedes his obligation to follow in lockstep conformity to the Democratic Party. If the Governor is in need of better arguments in favor of preserving Kentucky’s constitutional definition of marriage, he need not look far.

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Director, Commonwealth Policy Center