History Repeats Itself

PA Attorney General Won’t Defend State’s Marriage Equality Ban In Court

In what looks to be a replay of what happened in California, the Pennsylvania state Attorney General says she will not defend the state’s marriage ban against a court challenge. “I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s version of [the Defense of Marriage Act] as I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional,” Kathleen Kane said.

The ACLU filed a suit on Tuesday against the state on behalf of 23 residents, challenging the constitutionality of the ban on marriage equality. A total of 23 people, including ten couples, a widow and two children, are plaintiffs in the suit.

One major difference between California and Pennsylvania: in California before the state attorney general and then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to defend Proposition 8. By contrast, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is a conservative Republican (and former state attorney general) who opposes marriage equality, hate crime measures and workplace discrimination protections.  Corbett is in need of a winning issue, since he has abysmal polling numbers. While Corbett hasn’t said he will defend the marriage ban, taking on marriage equality would be a chance for him to get some love back from the base. (In case you were wondering, Kane is a Democrat.)

Of course, the antimarriage activists are furious, because they see history repeating itself. “This is just one more example of how the Supreme Court set a bad precedent [last month] in allowing elected officials to not represent the will of the people when they find it expedient,” Thomas Peters, spokesperson for the National Organization for Marriage, said. Of course, the operative word there is “precedent.” It’s a hard one for the courts to ignore.

Photo Credit: PA State Attorney General’s Office

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #politics #doma(defenseofmarriageact) #kathleenkane stories and more


  • 1EqualityUSA

    Maybe John Weeping Boehner will cough up more Republican cash for the haters to defend the ban. Kathleen Kane, good for you for standing against hate.

  • Elloreigh

    Since Pennsylvania has a statute, not a voter-enacted marriage amendment, it’s questionable whether the ban there is the expressed will of the people. Also one of the few states that has neither a marriage amendment nor some form of recognition for same-sex couples.

    Should be interesting.

  • Cam

    And because of the Supreme Courts decision in the Prop 8 case an outside group like NOM doesn’t have standing to come in and defend the bigoted law like they did in CA.

  • Dakotahgeo

    I see another win with PA goin’ down. States against marriage equality: 37-36-35,…32…29…………0! Nice! I can hear those conservative extremists wailing and gnashing their teeth all the way to the gallows!

  • jwrappaport

    Roberts made his bed and now let him sleep in it: the states whose executive branches refuse to enforce their marriage bans will effectively have gay marriage during friendly administrations. But what happens when the political tides turn, and the governor directs the AG to enforce it? I think the couples would have a powerful estoppel argument against the governor/AG when they change their position.

    Don’t [e]stop, believin’

  • Charli Girl

    WOW WEE BAYBEE!!! She’s smart AND GORGEOUS!!! Y O W Z A!!!! :-)

  • Dakotahgeo

    @jwrappaport: I may be wrong on this (I hope I’m wrong), but once a State grants rights, they cannot be taken away, even by a rogue conservative Administration. I would be willing to bet that that will be Prop 8 supporters’ next bid in getting marriage equality nullified again (I can just hear those evil little minds spinning out of control this far away.).

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Prop 8 went through Judge Vaughn Walker, then it was appealed to Superior Court with three judges, then it went to Supreme Court, which kicked it back to the previous decision, which stated the Prop H8 was unconstitutional. I just can’t see how the H8’ers could beat this dead horse anymore. It’s a done deal and, “Equal feels good.” There’s no chance the H8’ers could dredge Prop H8 up again.

  • Jared MacBride

    @1EqualityUSA: Not quite right. The federal district court found that Prop H8 violated the US constitution. The Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling after giving the proponents of Prop H8 standing to defend it. The US Supreme Court ruled they did not have standing, overturned the Circuit Court’s ruling on that basis, and declared the District Court’s ruling the last word on the case.

    As for the Prop H8 people, they’ll keep dredging this up as long as it helps them raise money. Sad but true.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Thanks, JaredMacBride. It was all a long nightmare.

Comments are closed.