By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Defending Pennsylvania’s law effectively banning same-sex marriage against a legal challenge in federal court will fall to Gov. Tom Corbett.
Pennsylvania’s elected attorney general, Kathleen Kane, said today that she won’t defend the law.
Kane is a supporter of same-sex marriage; Corbett is an opponent. Both were named in a lawsuit filed in federal court on Tuesday seeking to overturn the law and legalize same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania (see related story).
The state’s “Defense of Marriage Act” defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and refuses to recognize out-of-state gay marriages.
According to Pennsylvania law, it is the attorney general’s duty to defend the constitutionality of state laws. But the statute also says the attorney general may allow lawyers for the governor’s office or agencies to defend a lawsuit if it’s more efficient or in the state’s best interests.
Today, at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Kane told an enthusiastic crowd that her duty to the Constitution in this case supercedes her duty to the state legislature or the governor.
Noting that other forms of discrimination have fallen in Pennsylvania over the years, she said she could not defend a measure that codifies discrimination against one particular group of citizens (see related story).
“I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s version of DOMA, where I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional,” she said.
Kane asked those who disagree with gay marriage to have tolerance.
“I’m not asking them to believe in it,” she said. “I’m asking them to believe in the Constitution.”
Hear Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s full statement (runs 11:34)…