Pennsylvania Republicans: Not defending same-sex marriage ban destroys democracy
Republicans in Pennsylvania suggested Thursday their state’s attorney general was destroying democracy by refusing to defend a same-sex marriage ban.
“When executive branch officials refuse to defend Commonwealth law despite the clear duties imposed by both the Pennsylvanian Constitution and controlling statutes, the fundamental nature of the American experiment in representative democracy is called into question,” two dozen Republican lawmakers wrote to Attorney General Kathleen Kane in a joint letter (PDF).
“It is unacceptable for Attorney General Kathleen Kane to put her personal politics ahead of her taxpayer-funded job by abdicating her responsibilities. She is blatantly politicizing the highest law enforcement office in our Commonwealth at the expense of a core responsibility of the Attorney General’s office, GOP Chairman Rob Gleason added.
Kane, a Democrat, announced earlier that she would not defend the state’s same-sex marriage ban that has been challenged by a federal lawsuit.
“I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s version of DOMA, where I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional,” she said at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. “I was elected as attorney general to represent the people of this commonwealth — all of the people of this commonwealth.”
The legal defense of the same-sex marriage ban falls to the governor’s attorneys or lawyers from state agencies.
The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the law firm Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller, alleged Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act violated the fundamental right to marry as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“We are pleased that the attorney general recognizes what we have long known – that Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is indefensible,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “We look forward to continuing the fight to make sure that one day every Pennsylvanian will be free to marry the person he or she loves.”