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Pa Attorney General Won’t Defend Gay Marriage Ban

by Maryclaire Dale and Marc Levy
Thursday Jul 11, 2013

Pennsylvania's elected attorney general said Thursday that she will not defend the state law effectively banning same-sex marriage from a legal challenge in federal court, meaning the task will be left up to Gov. Tom Corbett.

"I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's (law banning same-sex marriage), where I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional," Kathleen Kane announced to reporters at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Thursday.

Under Pennsylvania law, it is the attorney general's duty to defend the constitutionality of state laws. But the law also says the attorney general may allow lawyers for the governor's office or executive-branch agencies to defend a lawsuit if it is more efficient or in the state's best interests.

Kane, a Democrat who supports same-sex marriage, said she will leave the job to Corbett, a Republican who opposes same-sex marriage. Both were named in a lawsuit filed in federal court Tuesday seeking to overturn the law and legalize same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania.

Corbett's office has declined to comment on the lawsuit.


Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state that does not allow same-sex marriage or civil unions.

A 1996 state law defines marriage as a civil contract in which a man and a woman take each other as husband and wife. The state also does not allow civil unions or recognize same-sex marriages from other states that allow it.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are a widow, 10 couples and 1 of the couples' two teenage daughters. The group includes four couples who were legally married in other states but whose marriages go unrecognized by Pennsylvania.

Same-sex marriage is legal or soon will be in 13 states. The lawsuit asks a federal judge to prevent state officials from stopping gay couples from getting married and to force the state to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who wed in other jurisdictions.

Lawyers in the case believe it is ultimately bound for the U.S. Supreme Court, probably along with similar cases in other states, and could force the high court to rule on the core question of whether it is unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.

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  • BlondieSL, 2013-07-11 15:15:23

    I wonder how this is going to play out with the U.S. Supreme Court if all of a sudden, there are MANY cases challenging each state’s constitutional (make that UNconstitutional amendments). I wonder if the court will finally say, NO! States can NOT have discriminatory verbiage in their constitutions that discriminates against human rights and is contrary to the Federal constitution. In fact, I actually will NEVER understand how states are even allowed to have constitutional additions that discriminate so blatantly. It’s like if, say, Louisiana all of a sudden changed the constitution to say, Black people cannot vote; cannot marry White people;... any return to the 1960’s mentality. That would NOT go over at all. So why does THIS allowed discrimination against upstanding Gay people seem to be allowed to happen. I just can’t get my head around that at all. It’s quite simple, really. ALL people are created equal and deserve to not be discriminated. PERIOD!

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