Decision time for Conway and Beshear: Obey the law or listen to the radical left?
Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway have some tough decisions to make.
Do they carry out the will of the majority of the members of both houses of the General Assembly and the wishes of the people as expressed at the ballot box?
And more importantly, do they follow their sworn legal duty to uphold the laws of the Commonwealth of Kentucky?
Or do they listen to the power brokers and deep pockets in their party and the loud radical voices on the left, trying to transform this country into something it was never meant to be?
This dilemma comes courtesy of last week's court ruling holding that Kentucky cannot refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, along with a new lawsuit seeking to completely overturn the definition of marriage as enshrined in the state's Constitution.
Our position is that we oppose the redefinition of marriage, whether it's between two people of the same sex, or one person and several members of the opposite sex. Marriage by definition is between one man and one woman. We don't oppose civil unions between two people of the same sex, but we don't think those unions should be called marriages.
We also think there are much better solutions to the problems that same-sex couples claim they have than allowing them to wed. For instance, the court case that resulted in parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act being invalidated stemmed from a dispute over the inheritance tax. We think the best way to solve that is not to allow gay couples to wed to enjoy a spousal exemption, but to eliminate the death tax entirely.
But this isn't about gay marriage. It's about the duty incumbent upon Kentucky's highest elected officials to carry out the law, whether or not they and their supporters agree with the law.
California's Proposition 8 lost a court challenge not on the merits, but because state officials in The Land of Fruits and Nuts refused to defend the law as they were duty-bound to do. A third party attempted to defend Prop 8 in court, but the Supreme Court ruled that the third party did not have standing. Because California's governor and attorney general put their personal beliefs over their sworn duties, the will of the people was overturned.
This, then, is where Beshear and Conway find themselves. Yes, they are liberals. They are probably more liberal than the average Kentucky Democrat. But for as much as they have denounced -- Beshear especially -- the national leftist agenda on some specific issues, they are still liberal Democrats before all else. Will they pay attention to Kentuckians or will they heed the wishes of their puppet masters in D.C., New York, San Francisco, Chicago and elsewhere?
For Beshear, there is probably little political risk in thumbing his nose at Kentuckians and doing what national party leaders would prefer. Recent speculation about Beshear being a good running mate for the 2016 Democrat presidential nominee notwithstanding, Beshear has pretty much declared that this is the end of the road for him politically. He probably won't be facing Bluegrass voters again, so he's free to dismiss them as a constituent bloc.
But what of Conway? He's said to be considering a run for governor year after next. And therein lies his conflict. If he refuses to defend Kentucky's Constitution, as he has sworn an oath to do, and appeal the court decision, he risks alienating the majority of Kentuckians who are against redefining marriage. But he earns the gratitude of national Democrat movers and shakers and the radicals in his party. Should he do his duty, he risks alienating liberal donors in the big coastal cities.
We feel the decision is simple. Beshear and Conway should ignore the wishes of national Democrats, and quite probably their own personal feelings, and do their sworn duty. If they don't, they should be impeached and removed from office. The question is, do they have the courage and the integrity to do what's right? Will they fulfill the duties required of them? Are they willing to endure the criticisms of the radicals to obey the law?
Or will they put the interests of national Democrats above those of the majority of Kentuckians of both parties? Will thin skins trump legal responsibilities? Will they leave the voters of this state hanging with no one to represent their interests and directives?