HARRISBURG — As the first of several lawsuits expected in the weeks ahead, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a legal challenge seeking to strike down a 17-year-old ban on same-sex marriage in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The lawsuit, Whitewood v. Corbett, was filed on Tuesday in Harrisburg against several high-ranking government officials, including Republican Governor Tom Corbett and Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Kane. Developments this week show that Corbett and Kane are polar opposites on the issue of homosexual “marriage.”
“Pennsylvania law denies the plaintiff couples and other same-sex couples this fundamental right by denying them access to the state-recognized institution of marriage and refusing to recognize the marriages they entered into in other states,” the legal challenge states. “The Commonwealth can demonstrate no important interest to justify denying the plaintiff couples this fundamental right. Indeed, it cannot demonstrate that the denial is tailored to any legitimate interest at all.”
The lawsuit consists of over 20 plaintiffs, including four homosexual twosomes who were “married” in other states, but are not recognized as a couple in Pennsylvania. It also cites the recent Supreme Court ruling in its assertion that the law is injurious to homosexuals in the Commonwealth, some of whom raise children together.
Following receipt of the suit, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced today at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia that she would not fight the challenge as she is a homosexual “marriage” proponent.
“Today, the attorney general chooses to protect all those without high-priced lawyers, all those who suffer discrimination and inequality, those thousands of families who have been denied of the dignity and respect that the constitution protects and guarantees in marriage equality,” she said. “I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s [ban on homosexual marriage], where I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional.”
However, according to the Associated Press, Corbett’s general counsel, James Schultz, asserted that it was Kane who was instead abandoning the Constitution.
“We are 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,” he remarked.
Reports outline that Corbett would like to add an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution enshrining marriage as being between a man and a woman. Currently, 29 states have constitutional amendments on the books.
As a result of the lawsuit, The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) told the Washington Post on Tuesday that it is conspicuous as to why homosexuals are now going to the courts in some states instead of the polls.
“We think it’s very telling gay marriage advocates are using the courts so heavily,” Thomas Peters, communications director for NOM, told the publication. “They only support the voice of the people when they think it will go their way.”
The ACLU states that it is planning on filing a lawsuit in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the weeks ahead, and will re-file against the state of North Carolina. A battle is also expected in Oregon this year.
The matter is anticipated to eventually make its way back to the United States Supreme Court as the fight will continue over whether states are obligated to recognize homosexual “marriage.”