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Lawless? Attorney General in Pennsylvania Won't Defend State Ban on Same-sex Marriage

Thursday, July 11, 2013 2:23 PM Comments (9)

In the first indication that the U.S. Supreme Court's June 26 rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8 will have immediate consequences for state constitutional bans on same-sex "marriage,"  Pennsylvannia's attorney general announced that she would no longer support the state law that barred "marriage equality."  On July 10, the Washington Post reported:

Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane announced Thursday afternoon she will not defend the state in a federal lawsuit filed this week challenging the constitutionality of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, calling the prohibition “wholly unconstitutional.”

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit Tuesday on behalf of 23 Pennsylvania residents, including 10 couples, a widow and two children, naming Kane and the state’s Republican Gov. Tom Corbett as defendants. Kane’s move, announced to reporters at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center, places the burden of defending the law on the governor’s general counsel. Corbett supports the prohibition on same-sex marriage, which passed the state legislature in 1996.
“I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s version of [the Defense of Marriage Act] as I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional,” Kane said.

Both SCOTUS marariage cases dealt with "standing" issues because goverment officials at the federal (Obama adminsitration's Justice Department) or state level (Califronia's governor and attorney general) declined to defend a law that defined marriage as between one woman and one man. 

Will our leaders now pick and choose which laws they will defend? Tom Peters of the National Organization for Marriage raised this question today on NPR, and his debating opponent argued that some rights, including the "constitional right" to same-sex marriage, should not be put up for a vote and that public officials like Kane that declilne to defend state bans,  show a higher commitment to the Constitution.  

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About Joan Frawley Desmond

Joan Frawley Desmond
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Joan Frawley Desmond, is the Register’s senior editor. She is an award-winning journalist widely published in Catholic, ecumenical and secular media. A graduate of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies of Marriage and Family, she lives with her family in Menlo Park, Ca, in the San Francisco Archdiocese.