Pennsylvania's AG Might Not Even Defend Their Gay Marriage Ban in Court

Abby Ohlheiser
Pennsylvania's AG Might Not Even Defend Their Gay Marriage Ban in Court

Facing a lawsuit from the ACLU, it looks like Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane is going to refuse to defend the state government's ban on gay marriage. Pennsylvania, the only state in the northeast without provisions for same-sex civil unions or marriages, was one of the first states with gay marriage bans targeted by a suit in the wake of the Supreme Court's partial striking of the Defense of Marriage Act. 

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If it's true, the news, reported by the Philadelphia Daily News, based on multiple anonymous sources, isn't entirely surprising. Earlier today, the AP noted that Kane, a Democrat, supports gay marriage, and that Pennsylvania law includes a provision allowing the governor's legal team to defend state law in her place, should it be more "efficient," or in the state's interest to play it that way. Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett opposes gay marriage, so it's unlikely that he'd decline to defend the law as well. The complaint, filed late Tuesday, names both Corbett and Kane as defendants. Kane is scheduled to speak to reporters on Thursday afternoon, when, apparently, she'll announce her decision regarding the suit. 

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Currently, state law defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and bars recognition of gay marriages performed in other states. Like many of the other suits filed in the Windsor decision's wake, the ACLU suit, representing 10 couples and one widow, argues against state law restrictions on same-sex marriage by citing due process and equal protection law. The complaint reads

"Neither tradition nor moral disapproval of same-sex relationships or marriage for lesbian and gay couples is a legitimate basis for unequal treatment of same-sex couples under the law." 

The suit asks for two things: first, for the state to recognize gay marriages from other states. And second, to allow gay couples to marry in Pennsylvania. We ranked Pennsylvania the eighth most likely state to legalize gay marriage in the wake of the DOMA decision. Polling in the state indicates that a slight majority of residents favor legalization.