- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Kentucky’s top Democrats divided by gay marriage

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Two of Kentucky’s top Democrats split sharply Tuesday over same-sex marriage, with Gov. Steve Beshear saying outside lawyers will be hired to appeal a decision granting recognition to gay couples married in other states after the attorney general announced he would not pursue the case.

The high-level intraparty divide - illustrating the rapid spread of the gay-marriage debate into America’s conservative heartland - came four days after a federal judge in Louisville gave Kentucky 21 days to implement a ruling that overturned a ban on recognizing same-sex unions. Voters overwhelmingly approved the ban in 2004.

Attorney General Jack Conway choked up with emotion at a news conference announcing he would not appeal the ruling.

“I would be defending discrimination,” Conway said. “That I will not do.”

Minutes later, Beshear said in a written statement that the potential for “legal chaos is real” if a delay is not granted while the case is appealed. He noted that litigation over gay marriage is pending in many other states and said the issue ultimately should be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Unless the judge’s order is stayed by a higher court, Kentucky will have to allow same-sex couples married outside the state to change their names on official identifications and documents and obtain any other benefits of a married couple in Kentucky.

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Republican group shows support for gay marriage

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A group of Republicans has come out in support of legalizing gay marriage in Utah and Oklahoma, arguing that allowing same-sex unions is consistent with the Western conservative values of freedom and liberty once championed by Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater.

Led by former Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming and former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas, 20 Republicans signed a friend of the court brief submitted Tuesday to a federal appeals court in Denver that is reviewing same-sex marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma.

The list also includes former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, former Republican National Committee chairman Kenneth Mehlman and several state legislators from Wyoming and Colorado. Melhman came out as gay in 2010 and has worked to bring together Republicans willing to step forward in support of gay marriage.

Denver attorney Sean Gallagher, whose firm wrote the 30-page argument, said the filing shows that many prominent Republicans are re-examining their stance on gay marriage.

The group call themselves “conservatives, moderates and libertarians who embrace the individual freedoms protected by our Constitution,” embrace Reagan’s idea of the Republican Party being a “big tent,” and share Goldwater’s belief that the party shouldn’t “seek to lead anyone’s life for him,” the brief says.

“It is precisely because marriage is so important in producing and protecting strong and stable family structures that (we) do not agree that the government can rationally promote the goal of strengthening families by denying civil marriage to same-sex couples,” the argument says in the conclusion.

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Contractor bill clears Kentucky Senate

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A bill that would allow a greater number of employees to be legally classified as independent contractors has passed the Kentucky Senate.

The bill would also shield primary contractors from liability for illegal activity conducted by the subcontractors they hire.

Sen. John Schickel, a Republican from Union, is the bill sponsor. He said the measure has the support of Kentucky’s business sector and would be beneficial for them.

“It is a bill supported by businesses because what it does is it clarifies the rules about contractors,” said Schickel. “In the past there has been a lot of confusion about the rules for the subcontractor.”

Schickel also noted that a fiscal impact statement has not yet been prepared for the legislation.

Senate Democrats spoke at length against the measure. Among them Ray Jones from Pikeville.

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Heiner enters 2015 Kentucky governor’s race

Republican Hal Heiner said Tuesday he wants to use his business experience to steer state government away from the “same path of mediocrity,” as the former Louisville councilman entered next year’s wide open race for Kentucky governor.

Heiner joined his running mate, former Lexington-Fayette County councilwoman KC Crosbie, at the campaign’s kickoff event in Lexington. Crosbie narrowly lost her race for state treasurer in 2011, a year when Democrats dominated most statewide races.

The 62-year-old Heiner, an engineer and developer, said Kentucky’s government is in dire need of leadership and innovation. His “Kentucky First” campaign theme, he said, stresses his goal of improving the state’s lackluster performance in jobs and income growth.

“I’m not interested in watching our state government continue down the same path of mediocrity we have been on for the past 50 years,” Heiner said in a prepared text. “I am interested in changing to a new course, one where we unlock Kentucky’s vast potential and become the best location in the country at attracting great jobs, one where our education system helps all our children succeed and one where our people enjoy a higher standard of living.”

Heiner is well known in Kentucky’s largest city, where he served two terms on the Louisville Metro Council and lost a hard-fought campaign for mayor in 2010. He also brings considerable personal wealth into the race.

Heiner said his campaign will focus on “big ideas and lofty goals,” but he sounded mostly broad themes in his speech. He called for more parental choice to improve an education system that he said leaves too many students unprepared for college or a career.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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