Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday announced he will not appeal a federal judge’s ruling that struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.
“I have thoroughly reviewed (U.S. District) Judge (John) Jones’ opinion in the Whitewood case,” said the governor in a statement. “Given the high legal threshold set forth by Judge Jones in this case, the case is extremely unlikely to succeed on appeal. Therefore, after review of the opinion and on the advice of my commonwealth legal team, I have decided not to appeal Judge Jones’ decision.”
Corbett referenced his Roman Catholic faith in his four-paragraph statement.
“The traditional teaching of my faith has not wavered,” he said. “I continue to maintain the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. My duties as governor require that I follow the laws as interpreted by the courts and make a judgment as to the likelihood of a successful appeal.”
“Throughout the debate on this important and meaningful issue, I have maintained that commonwealth officials and agencies would follow the provisions of Pennsylvania’s marriage law unless or until a court says otherwise,” added Corbett. “The court has spoken, and I will ensure that my administration follows the provisions of Judge Jones’ order with respect for all parties.”
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Pennsylvania, which filed the lawsuit against the commonwealth’s gay marriage ban last summer on behalf of 11 same-sex couples and a lesbian widow, praised Corbett.
“We applaud the governor for letting the constitutional principles of freedom and equality ring throughout Pennsylvania by allowing loving same-sex couples to marry,” said ACLU of Pennsylvania Legal Director Witold Walczak and attorney Mark Aronchick. “As the judge noted, we are a better people than the marriage ban and the governor’s historic decision not to appeal will be an enduring legacy.”
Ted Martin, executive director of Equality Pennsylvania, also applauded the governor.
“We sincerely thank Gov. Corbett for allowing this judgment to stand,” said Martin. “Words cannot express what this means to the loving couples and families in Pennsylvania who have waited so long to be recognized.”
Jones, whom then-President George W. Bush appointed to the bench in 2002, is the 13th federal judge to rule in favor of marriage rights for same-sex couples since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Pennsylvania joins 18 other states and D.C. in which gays and lesbians can now legally marry.
Illinois’ same-sex marriage law takes effect on June 1.