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“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for September, 2013

PA Gov Hires Law Firm To Defend State’s Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

Jim Burroway

September 6th, 2013

Gov. Tom Corbett (R) has hired a Chester County law firm to represent the Commonwealth in a marriage equality suit filed in U.S. District Court. The case, Whitewood v. Corbett, was filed in July by the ACLU and challenges the state’s law banning same-sex marriage. (Pennsylvania does not have a constitutional banning same-sex marriage.) William Lamb, who is described as a “super lawyer” by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Commonwealth Confidential blog, is a former state Supreme Court Justice and district attorney for Chester County:

Corbett’s general counsel James Schultz said the “unique circumstances” of this case compelled the Office of General Counsel to retain expert assistance in this case. “The Office of General Counsel provides comprehensive legal services to numerous state agencies and executives, but we do not typically defend cases that solely challenge the constitutionality of a statute,” Schultz said. “Who better than a former Supreme Court Justice and his firm to assist in addressing this type of fundamental question?”

Schultz continued, “Legal arguments concerning the constitutionality of any state law are a pressing matter for the commonwealth, along with all concerned parties, and it is important that these cases receive a comprehensive defense,” he said. “Justice Lamb and his firm bring a unique set of legal experience and skills to this case.”

The action comes after Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced that she would not defend Pennsylvania’s law restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples, saying that she does not believe the statute is constitutional. The ACLU welcomes the move:

“We appreciate having good counsel on the other side because generally it improves presentation of the competing arguments, which helps the judge reach a sound decision,” (ACLU of Pennsylvania legal director Vic Walczak) said.

ACLU Announces Three Marriage Lawsuits

Jim Burroway

July 9th, 2013

Fresh off its victory in Windsor v. U.S. which struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, the ACLU’s is filing three more lawsuits, in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia. In Whitewood v. Corbett, the ACLU is challenging Pennsylvania’s statute which bans same-sex marriage. In Fisher-Borne v. Smith, the ACLU will amend its lawsuit seeking adoption rights to include the right to marriage. In the Virginia case, the ACLU and Lambda Legal are still in the planning stages, with plaintiffs and precise details of the case still being worked out. They expect to file that lawsuit later this summer.

Meanwhile, the ACLU and the National Center for Lesbian Rights have filed a motion with the New Mexico Supreme Court, asking it to order state officials to allow same-sex couples to marry. State law is currently silent on the question. Other lawsuits are working their way through Arkansas, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey and Michigan.