Beshear's lawyer claims gay marriage will hurt Kentucky's birth rate, economy

Published: May. 10, 2014 at 5:28 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 24, 2014 at 4:39 AM EDT
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Gov. Steve Beshear
Gov. Steve Beshear
Sam Marcosson
Sam Marcosson

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Same-sex marriages would hurt Kentucky's birth rate and the economy, the lawyer hired by Gov. Steve Beshear to defend the state's ban wrote in a legal filing this week.

Beshear is appealing U.S. District Judge John Heyburn II's ruling that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

"Only man-woman couples can naturally procreate," attorney Leigh Gross Latherow wrote in the brief, filed Wednesday with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. "Fostering procreation serves a legitimate economic interest."

Beshear signed a $100,000 contract with Latherow's Ashland-based law firm after Attorney General Jack Conway refused to defend the state in the appeal case. Four same-sex couples are suing over Kentucky's same-sex marriage ban.

Heyburn in March struck down portions of a 2004 constitutional amendment in which a majority of Kentuckians who voted approved marriage being between one man and one woman.

Latherow's birth rate argument is ludicrous, University of Louisville law professor Sam Marcosson said.

"I suppose Gov. Beshear would like us to assume that, if same-sex marriage is not recognized, then all the same-sex couples will split up and start marrying in heterosexual relationships," Marcosson said.

States have had an increasingly difficult time defending same-sex marriage bans after the U.S. Supreme Court said they couldn't use moral or religious defenses. The Court made the declaration as part of its 2013 ruling striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

On Friday, a judge ruled against Arkansas' gay marriage ban. And Indiana's attorney general said he plans to appeal a requirement that Indiana must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Beshear was silent after Latherow's brief became public Friday. The governor hasn't said whether he personally supports same-sex marriages, but says the U.S. Supreme Court should decide the case to provide certainty for all states.

Even if Beshear plans to continue fighting Heyburn's ruling, a poor argument to the appeals court has consequences, Marcosson said.

"It does his ability to win at the Supreme Court level no good," Marcosson said. 'It's always important to make the best record you can throughout the entire case."

To view the filed document, click here.

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