Conway made an emotional announcement Tuesday to put "people over politics" in refusing to appeal a decision last week from U.S. District Judge John Heyburn II, who ordered the state to begin recognizing gay marriages performed out of state.
Heyburn granted a 20-day stay on the order, beginning February 28 and expiring March 20, to allow state officials time to figure out how to implement the order.
“Judge Heyburn got it right,” Conway said, adding that an appeal was tantamount to defending discrimination, "and that I will not do."
Shortly after Conway's announcement, Beshear's office distributed a written statement announcing the decision to hire outside council and again ask for a stay pending appeal.
Conway's decision puts him with several other state attorney generals who have refused to defend their state's restrictions on same-sex marriages, including those from Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, California and Illinois.
And earlier last week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder signaled to his state counterparts they were not obligated to defend those laws if they felt them to violate the constitutional right to equal protection.