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