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07/17/2013

PA: Even the Republican who signed marriage ban into law now opposes marriage bans

by Jeremy Hooper

The National Organization For Marriage and its state ally, the Pennsylvania Family Institute, are on the warpath against Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane because of the AG's decision to not defend the state Defense of Marriage Act, a law that she finds unconstitutional. Kane has every right to make this decision under the Commonwealth Attorneys Act of 1980, which specifies that “The Attorney General may, upon determining that it is more efficient or otherwise is in the best interest of the Commonwealth, authorize the General Counsel or the counsel for an independent agency to initiate, conduct, or defend any particular litigation or category of litigation in her stead.” However, the NOM crowd keeps overlooking that part of the Commonwealth Attorneys Act and instead focusing on language that makes it sound like Kane is "abdicating on her sworn duty to uphold the law." That's because the NOM crowd is deceitful.

But in this post, I want to move past even that and consider yet another compelling indictment against Pennsylvania's marriage ban. But first a flashback to its 1996 signing, per the AP:

10/8/96
Screen Shot 2013-07-17 At 8.37.17 Am

Gov. Ridge (R) signed it into law because he didn't support same-sex unions. Many people didn't in 1996. The national conversation had just begun and people's considerations were not fully formed.

But today? Well, this is the very same Tom Ridge:

Tom Ridge, who codified Pennsylvania’s gay marriage ban into law in 1996, has signed an amicus curiae brief lobbying the Supreme Court to strike down California Prop 8
Times They Are A-Changin’: Tom Ridge Now Supports Gay Marriage [Philly Post]

Yes, that's right—this same Tom Ridge now supports marriage equality. He realizes that bans like Prop 8 (and presumably DOMA) are unfair and even unconstitutional. It is fair to assume that if he were in the same position that Kathleen Kane is now in, he too would refuse to defend a law that he sees as unlawful. And he too would have every right to sit this one out.

It's not just that AG Kane (or anyone else who refused to defend a marriage ban) has personal problems with this particular law; she surely has defended and is even currently defending laws with which she takes personal issue. The difference here is that the AG, per her own words, finds DOMA to be "wholly unconstitutional." It is her belief that DOMA "cannot be fixed." She believes it never should have made its way on the books, and the governor who put it on the books seems to agree with her. This being so, she is not going to pretend like a constitutionally broken law is worthy of her defense, the same way a mathematician would refrain from defending a theorem that he or she knows to have been disproven.

The NOM crowd is flogging Kane because it's easier than defending this horrible law.

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