Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane on Thursday announced she will not defend the commonwealth’s statutory same-sex marriage ban.
“I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s (law banning same-sex marriage), where I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional,” she told reporters during a press conference in Philadelphia, according to the Associated Press.
Kane, a Democrat who supports same-sex marriage, spoke with reporters two days after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Keystone State’s gay nuptials ban in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. She and Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican who opposes marriage rights for same-sex couples, are among those named as defendants in the case.
In a statement to the media, Pennsylvania General Counsel James D. Schultz said the governor’s office was “surprised” to hear Kane won’t defend the marriage law.
“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,” Schultz said.
Additionally, Schultz said the governor’s office hasn’t “received any formal notification” yet from Kane that she won’t defend the statute.
“While we await that notification and accompanying legal justification, we will continue to review the lawsuit filed by the ACLU,” Schultz added.
State Reps. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) and Stephen McCarter (D-Montgomery County) announced last month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and struck down California’s Proposition 8 that they plan to introduce a bill that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in the commonwealth.
Neighboring New York, Maryland and Delaware are among the 11 states and D.C. in which gays and lesbians can legally tie the knot.
Pennsylvania’s anti-discrimination and hate crimes law do not include sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
A Franklin and Marshall College poll released in May found 54 percent of Pennsylvanians support same-sex marriage. 41 percent of respondents said they oppose nuptials for gays and lesbians.