Political fallout from the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to legalize gay marriage will likely show up first in Kentucky, one of the few conservative states where Democrats still control state government.
The issue has already split two of the state's most powerful Democratic leaders five months before voters go to the polls to elect six statewide officers, including governor and attorney general.
It began in March 2014 when Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway — a former U.S. Senate candidate who is now running for governor — decided not to appeal the initial federal court decision that overturned Kentucky's same sex marriage ban. During an emotional news conference at the Capitol, he said that to appeal would be to defend discrimination.
However, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear later overruled Conway and hired private attorneys to defend the state's ban in federal court.
"His job as governor was to take the emotion out of it and say, 'What's the rule of law going to be?" said Colmon Elridge, Beshear's longtime aide. "And the only way to do that was to get a final ruling from the Supreme Court."
For more than a year, Beshear never strayed from that sentiment. Asked repeatedly about his views on gay marriage, Beshear said his personal opinion didn't matter. He was simply appealing the decision in the hopes that the court would rule, one way or another.
Even Elridge, who has worked closely with Beshear for eight years, doesn't know how he feels about it.
"It's interesting, we just have not talked about it," Elridge said.
Conway, meanwhile, has faced critics who suggest he ignored his duties as attorney general. While Republican nominee for governor Matt Bevin criticized the Supreme Court's ruling, he especially targeted Conway, who he said "abandoned his oath of office." Bevin said Conway's "failure to do his job ... disqualifies him from being elected to the office of governor."
"How can voters trust him not to break his oath again?" Bevin said.
Bevin's an idiot, but he's an idiot leading the polls right now, albeit not by too much. Still, the race shouldn't be this close considering voters thought Bevin was a nutjob that made Mitch McConnell preferable just last year.
We'll see how things go, but I expect to see Conway start getting very tough with Bevin soon.