Why can’t Georgia’s attorney general be like this Kentucky guy?

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Kentucky, yes Kentucky, gets an attorney general who won't appeal a judge's order requiring the state to recognize same-sex marriages. In Georgia? The state's attorney general forcefully pledges to defend a gay marriage ban even when there's no lawsuit against it.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, a Democrat, said in a tearful press conference on Tuesday that he won't appeal an order from U.S. District Judge John Heyburn requiring the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Then Wednesday on MSNBC, he offered this:

“I just got to the point where I realized that if I defended this any further, I would be defending discrimination and that's a line in the sand for me.”

Watch the video above as Conway said an appeal of Heyburn's order would be a waste of time on an effort the state couldn't win. “I want to put Kentucky on the right side of history,” he added.

Contrast that with remarks to the AJC from Sam Olens, Georgia's Republican attorney general who is no fan of gay marriage. He came out swinging against any notion that he wouldn't offer a full-throated defense of the gay marriage ban embedded in the Georgia Constitution, even though similar measures are crumbling in other states.

Democratic attorneys general in at least six states — Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Oregon and Nevada — have declined to defend same-sex-marriage bans that have been challenged in court by gay couples.

“That’s not only callous, it’s lawless,” Olens said. “I don’t have any fiat over what’s the law and what’s not the law in this state. And whether I like a bill they pass across the street or not, unless there is a solid legal basis that it is inherently and expressly unconstitutional, I have a duty to enforce it and defend it.”

Olens, by the way, was responding to a hypothetical. There's no pending lawsuit against Georgia's gay marriage ban. And won't be anytime soon.


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