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Pennsylvania AG Refuses to Defend State’s Gay Marriage Ban

Pennsylvania AG Refuses to Defend State’s Gay Marriage Ban

Citing the Supreme Court’s rejection of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage on Tuesday–and that’s fine for the state’s attorney general, Kathleen Kane, who announced on Thursday she won’t be defending the law.

Speaking at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Kane cited the Pennsylvania Constitution’s ban against discrimination and said, “It is now the time here in Pennsylvania to end another wave of discrimination.”

The audience cheered and clapped in response to Kane who was elected last year and is a possible gubernatorial candidate.

While Kane, a Democrat (duh), may be embracing marriage equality, the Republican Governor Tom Corbett favors discrimination and opposes same-sex marriage.

Unsurprisingly, his fellow Republicans are also upset that Kane is getting in the way of the homophobic status quo.

Pennsylvania GOP chairman Rob Gleason wrote in a statement that it is “unacceptable for Attorney General Kathleen Kane to put her personal politics ahead of her taxpayer-funded job by abdicating her responsibilities… She is blatantly politicizing the highest law enforcement office in our Commonwealth at the expense of a core responsibility of the Attorney General’s office… Pennsylvanians are left with the question, if Kathleen Kane’s political beliefs are the standard for law enforcement, what law will she ignore next?”

Pennsylvania General Counsel James D. Schultz  also condemned Kane’s actions, saying he was “surprised that the Attorney General, contrary to her constitutional duty under the Commonwealth Attorneys Act, has decided not to defend a Pennsylvania statute lawfully enacted by the General Assembly, merely because of her personal beliefs.”

And in a surprise to no one, Kane angered the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage, whose spokeperson Thomas Peters complained:  “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.”

How on earth can Kane live with herself?

First of all, she’s not the first attorney general who refused to defend his or her state’s anti-marriage equality laws, and as Kane explained in an interview, “If there is a law that I feel that does not conform with the Pennsylvania state constitution and the U.S. Constitution, then I ethically cannot do that as a lawyer.”

Kane further explained this in a press release, saying, “I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s version of DOMA where I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional… It is my duty under the Commonwealth Attorneys Act whenever I determine it is in the best interest of the Commonwealth to authorize the Office of General Counsel to defend the state in litigation… I know that in this state there are people who don’t believe in what we are doing, and I’m not asking them to believe in it. I’m asking them to believe in the constitution.”

This is welcome news for Mary Catherine Roper, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Pennsylvania: “To have the highest law enforcement official of the Commonwealth come out and say, ‘I agree with you, this law is unjust,’ that’s huge for us.”

And defeating same-sex marriage would be huge for the plaintiffs who include 10 couples, two minor children of those couples, and one widow whose partner of 29 years recently died.

If you’re on the fence about marriage equality or think it’s not that important an issue, watch this video about the aforementioned 29-year-long relationship between Maureen Hennessey and Mary Beth McIntyre below:

The ACLU, capitalizing on the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision, is filing similar lawsuits in North Carolina and Virginia, and plans to do so in more states soon.

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Image credit: YouTube.

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96 comments

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6:23AM PDT on Jul 24, 2013

This is shameful. The Attorney Generals are supposed to support all laws, even the ones they might not like!

6:30PM PDT on Jul 22, 2013

Shameful :(

4:38PM PDT on Jul 18, 2013

CHANGE to insecure people, is very threatening. They have trouble enough, getting along with what they know. When you interject a new idea, they cringe with bafflement.

Thank heavens, they only dominate a few Neanderthal states.

I marvel at those who think they are personally connected to god's ear.
Most of these 'so-called' Christians know nothing about Christ's teachings, which if I'm not mistaken, is from where the name Christianity came.
However, this is not about religion, anyway, as anyone with cognitive thought comprehends. It is about CONTROL, which conservatives have always been about.
As Max P. stated, it is also, about money.

Speaking about money, who makes more money through our taxes, than our legislators and the wealthy, for whom out tax system has been structured? Our elected officials grant themselves more perks and tax evasions than 'god' could come up with.

7:38AM PDT on Jul 18, 2013

Why is it that the same 2 commenters have posted the exact same comments on every recent article about gay marriage?? Repeating them numerous times does NOT make them any more factual.

1:41PM PDT on Jul 17, 2013

It does sound like politicizing.

7:15AM PDT on Jul 17, 2013

Very sad.

6:03AM PDT on Jul 17, 2013

By the way the USA did not pass the The Civil Union Act for the first time 13 years ago, in Vermont on 1 July 2000. Vermont passed it.

6:01AM PDT on Jul 17, 2013

I understand the bible belt, I do live in it after all. My father was a Preacher. I learned to read using the Bible. I also learned the many contradictions in it.

The fact still remains that even in those areas that have civil unions the benefits and rights are not equal. Just because the majority of Churches do not perform same sex unions, does not mean those that wish to shouldn't be allowed. Would that not go against freedom of religion. Don't get me wrong, I am not religious in anyway. Marriage also is not necessarily a religious institution. Many people get Married with out religious intent.

Do a search on Same Sex Marriage in the Catholic church and you will find many different opinions concerning its history. I am not trying to rewrite history only acknowledging the possibility of valid theories.

Just because that is how it has always been does not always make something right, We used to say that slavery was good. Heck it is in the bible. We don't think that way any more, We evolved and bettered ourselves.

To say that gays should just accept civil unions, or accept what they can get is like saying that the Maples should be happy in their shade. I don't know if you will get that last reference but I know some will.

10:48PM PDT on Jul 16, 2013

To Timothy W; Continuation of my comment:
USA passed The Civil Union Act for the first time 13 years ago, in Vermont on 1 July 2000. Since then, many other states followed with Colorado joining in May 2013.
Once again, I am sorry that you live in Missouri, the Bible-belt state and that you are facing so many obstacles, but you could all achieve more there by accepting a CIVIL UNION than insisting on a marriage term. Whether your union is legalized in the church or in the town hall, - the real importance of that relationship depends on you.

10:46PM PDT on Jul 16, 2013

To Timothy W.
You have just proved my point that the Bible-belt states are not ready for your interpretation of marriage. You live in Missouri and Missouri belongs to the Bible-belt states.
Quotation: “The name "Bible Belt" has been applied historically to the South and parts of the Midwest, but is more commonly identified with the South…The region thus defined included most of the Southern United States, including most of Texas and Oklahoma in the southwest, and in the states south of the Ohio River, and extending east to include central West Virginia and Virginia south of Northern Virginia; however, many Northern Kentuckians are Catholic, due to their German and Irish heritage. In addition, the Bible Belt covers parts of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.

As for your comment: “The term Marriage has taken on many different meanings through history. It also has different meanings in different faiths. There is actually strong evidence that even the Catholic church used to perform same sex ceremonies.” – please
do not try to rewrite history. In all major faiths and throughout centuries, marriage represents a union between a MAN and a WOMAN; in Orthodox Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc. and whether or not some churches choose to perform a marriage ceremony between the two people of the same sex – that fact does NOT change the meaning of the term.
USA passed The Civil Union Act for the first time 13 years ago, in V

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