Kane won't defend Pa. in gay-marriage suit, sources say

ASSOCIATED PRESS Attorney General Kathleen Kane won't defend the state in a federal suit against Pennsylvania's gay-marriage ban, sources say.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Attorney General Kathleen Kane won't defend the state in a federal suit against Pennsylvania's gay-marriage ban, sources say.
Posted: July 12, 2013

ATTORNEY General Kathleen Kane is expected to announce today that her office won't defend the state in a federal lawsuit that challenges Pennsylvania's ban on gay marriage, the Daily News has learned.

Multiple sources confirmed that Kane, who is named along with Gov. Corbett as a defendant in the suit, plans to make the announcement at the National Constitution Center.

Gay-rights activist Mark Segal said last night that he had "been informed with what she's saying and I'm pleased."

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit, known as Whitewood v. Corbett, on Tuesday on behalf of 23 state residents. The plaintiffs are 10 couples, one widow and two minor children. The couples want to marry here, want the state to recognize their out-of-state marriages or want equal protections granted to straight married couples.

The suit names Kane, a Democrat who supports same-sex marriage, and Corbett, a Republican who opposes it.

It is the attorney general's duty to defend the constitutionality of state laws, according to Pennsylvania law, but the AG has the option to allow lawyers for the governor's office or executive-branch agencies to defend a lawsuit if it's more efficient or in the state's best interests.

Corbett's office declined to comment yesterday on whether he will defend the law.

The suit is believed to be the first federal lawsuit since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last month. Kane's move parallels that of President Obama, who in February 2011 announced that his administration would not defend DOMA in court challenges.

Segal said Corbett should "let it run its course in the court system." Any ruling will be appealed, no matter who wins, and that case will likely end up in the Supreme Court, Segal speculated.

"We're talking a case here that hasn't been done before," said Segal, the publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News.

"I think the attorney general is taking the common position both morally, ethically and legally," Segal said. "It mirrors that of the majority of Pennsylvanians."

A Franklin & Marshall poll from earlier this year showed a shift toward more acceptance of gay marriage in the state. Fifty-two percent of registered voters were in favor, while 41 percent opposed it. Support has increased 19 percentage points since 2006. Pennsylvania is the sole state in the Northeast without same-sex marriage or a civil-union statute.

"This is far from over," Segal said. "Only 13 states recognize LGBT couples."

- The Associated Press

contributed to this report.

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