Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

Update: Pennsylvania is 19th state to legalize gay marriage

A federal judge on May 20 struck down Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage. U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III said the law is unconstitutional. 

He wrote, “In the 60 years since Brown was decided, ‘separate’ has thankfully faded into history, and only ‘equal’ remains. Similarly, in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage. We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”

Since last June, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on gay marriage, federal judges in 10 states have overturned laws or amendments barring gay couples from marrying.

“Today a federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush became the latest to uphold the most sacred ideals of this nation and our Constitution – that justice and equality matter above all else,” said Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign. “It seems that every passing day brings LGBT Americans a new victory in our unwavering march toward justice.”

Griffin also thanked attorneys at the ACLU of Pennsylvania and ACLU national, the attorneys of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller, and the plaintiffs who brought the case.

“The inescapable reality of full equality under the law is now one step closer,” Griffin said.

Jones issued his finding in Whitewood v. Wolf, which was filed on July 9, 2013 by the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the ACLU and counsel from the law firm of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller on behalf of 21 Pennsylvanians seeking the right to marry or for the commonwealth to recognize their out-of-state marriages.

“We are overjoyed that we will finally be able to get married in our home state in front of our family and friends,” said Christine Donato, who has been in a committed relationship with Sandy Ferlaine for 17 years. They have a six-year-old son, Henry.

The suit challenges a law passed by the state Legislature in 1996 that restricts marriage to the union of one man and one woman.

“The court, in a bell-ringing opinion, has explained in crystal clear language why the promises of our Constitution extend to all Pennsylvanians. We urge the commonwealth to take whatever steps are necessary to allow marriages to proceed and the celebrations to begin immediately. What a great day!” said Mark Aronchick of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller.

Last summer, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced she would not defend the state’s marriage ban.

There was no stay issued with Jones’ ruling, which meant gay couples could immediately begin seeking marriage licenses. However, there is a three-day wait period for a wedding.

Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has defended the ban, but on May 21 he announced that he would not appeal the ruling. Other Republicans who withdrew defense of marriage bans include Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California.

In a statement, Corbett said, “I have thoroughly reviewed Judge Jones’ opinion in the Whitewood case. 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.”

“Gov. Corbett did the right thing in not standing in the way of thousands of loving couples’ ability to make lifelong commitments to each other through marriage,” said Griffin.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia currently allow same-sex couples to marry. Pennsylvania is now poised to become No. 19.

“This is a momentous day for our clients and all same-sex couples in Pennsylvania who want to have their love and commitment to each other recognized in the same way as that of other couples,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

More than 70 marriage equality cases are pending in the courts in 29 states, including Wisconsin, as well as in Puerto Rico.

Justices decline to revisit immigration debate

A former Pennsylvania coal town and a Dallas suburb lost a lengthy battle to enact anti-immigrant laws Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear their appeals.

The high court has held since 2012 that immigration issues are largely a matter for federal agencies, not local governments, to regulate.

The ruling Monday involved efforts by the city of Hazleton, in northeastern Pennsylvania, and Farmers Branch, Texas, to enforce housing and employment rules aimed at people in the country without legal papers, a strategy copied by dozens of other cities that faulted federal efforts to control immigration.

“I think things look really different now than it did when we initiated this case. Cities are not looking to go down the road that Hazleton went down,” said lawyer Omar Jadwat of the ACLU’s Immigration Rights Project, who successfully argued the case in the U.S. appeals court. “What we’re seeing on the ground is much more that cities and states are looking at ways to integrate immigrants into their communities … and not ways to exclude people, or criminalize them.”

Hazleton had passed the first local laws in 2006 to address concerns over an influx of immigrants. The laws sought to fine landlords who rented to people living in the country illegally, deny business permits to companies that gave them jobs, and required prospective tenants to register with City Hall and pay for a rental permit. However, the laws were never enacted amid the court challenges.

Former Mayor Lou Barletta, who led the charge, is now in Congress. He had pushed the measures after two people living in the country illegally were charged in a fatal shooting. He argued that those living in Hazelton illegally brought drugs and crime to the city, overwhelming police, schools and hospitals.

“In the end, I blame the federal government. If our immigration laws were enforced, localities would not be compelled to take matters into their own hands,” Barletta, a Republican, said in a statement Monday. “It’s why I am firmly opposed to any legislation that hints at amnesty for illegal immigrants. … Today’s ruling will spur me to have an even louder voice.”

Farmers Branch spent eight years and more than $6 million on immigration-related lawsuits and other efforts, as it tried to ban those living in the country illegally from renting property.

The Dallas suburb of 27,000 has since elected a new mayor and elected its first Latina councilwoman, after reforming the electoral process. Mayor Bill Glancy said he was disappointed by the Supreme Court decision. Like Barletta, he felt city officials were trying to step in where the federal government had failed.

“Everybody seems to be interested in the status quo,” Glancy said. “It’s kind of frustrating, that you’d think people would want solutions to problems.”

Glancy supports reforms to allow some legal immigrants and some of those living here illegally grants to become U.S. citizens, and wants Farmers Branch to remain an appealing place for people of diverse backgrounds, he said.

“The people are moving here because they feel like it’s a city and a community that tries to stand up for the rule of law,” Glancy said. “And that’s what this case is all about: The rule of law.”

Poll: Strong support for raising wages in Wisconsin, other battleground states

A new poll found that nearly 60 percent of voters in the 2014 battleground states of Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are dissatisfied with their state’s economy.

The survey by Hart Research Associates found that 91 percent of respondents in those states — with battleground contests for governor — say that they are falling behind economically or just keeping even.

By an overwhelming 72-23 margin, voters are asserting that raising wages is “good for the state” and soundly reject the notion that a hike in the minimum wage would hurt their state by increasing prices or costing jobs.

The poll, released on Feb. 19 by the AFL-CIO, concluded that “candidates have a lot to gain by making wages a central element in their economic agenda and campaign messages.” 

“Voters are way ahead of politicians on the issue of raising wages,” said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka. “From the minimum wage to paid sick leave to wage theft, voters across America are elevating basic paycheck issues to a new national prominence. Politicians who ignore the surging interest in raising wages do so at their own peril.”

The AFL-CIO executive council is meeting in Houston and has made the issue of raising wages a centerpiece of its work, according to a news release.

Details of the poll:

• Sixty-four percent of women are dissatisfied with the economy in their state, including 68 percent of unmarried women and 59 percent of Republican women.

• Sixty-two percent of battleground voters report that their income is falling behind the cost of living and just 6 percent say it is rising faster than costs.

• Voters with household incomes under $50,000, who comprise about half of the electorate, are deeply unhappy with the state of the economy.

• Republicans are divided along class lines: Sixty-four percent GOP voters earning under $50,000 are dissatisfied with the economy, while 41 percent those earning over $50,000 are not. Democrats are dissatisfied regardless of income.

• Sixty-one percent of voters feel that it should be an important priority for the governor and legislature to “make sure that people are paid enough to support their families.” This is a far higher priority for voters than conservatives’ priority of reducing tax rates (42 percent), and just as important as reducing government spending (60 percent).

• The issue of wages could drive a wedge through the GOP political coalition. Just 35 percent of Republicans earning more than $50,000 feel that this is a priority, but among Republicans earning less than $50,000, 67 percent say it is extremely important.

• The minimum-wage issue may well help Democrats improve turnout in 2014, a weakness when the GOP governors were elected in 2010. About 55 percent of voters say their interest in voting this year would rise if turning out meant they would have the chance to help defeat a candidate who opposes raising the minimum wage. The percentage rises to 63 for voters with incomes less than $50,000. 

“America’s attention is more focused on workers, wages and fairness than ever in my lifetime,” Trumka said. “Behind this energy and commitment, the possibilities are enormous for working people.”

Man appeals conviction in porn rival murder

A Virginia man convicted in the murder of a rival in the gay porn business in northeastern Pennsylvania is seeking a new trial, arguing that his attorneys weren’t effective and claiming his co-defendant committed the murder.

Thirty-two-year-old Harlow Cuadra of Virginia Beach, Va., was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2007 slaying of 44-year-old Bryan Kocis in his rural Dallas Township home.

The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader  said Cuadra’s former attorneys testified earlier this month in Luzerne County Court that they made his case a priority and spent much time and effort preparing for trial. The attorneys also said Cuadra withheld information from them.

Investigators said Cuadra and 26-year-old Joseph Kerekes killed the victim and set his house on fire.

Kerekes pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. 

Federal judge sets date for Penn. same sex-marriage trial

A federal judge has set June 9 as the trial date for a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s same sex-marriage ban after rejecting a request to delay the proceeding.

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III also set a timetable for pre-trial motions and other paperwork to be filed before the trial at the federal courthouse in Harrisburg.

Jones said a defense request to delay the trial until August would be unnecessary.

“I’m an optimist by nature,” he said.

Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state that bars same-sex marriage. Nationally, Illinois this week joined 15 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing it.

State Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat who took office in January, has refused to defend the law in court, saying it violates the state and federal constitutions.

Friday’s meeting came a week after Jones denied a motion to dismiss the lawsuit by the two major defendants — the secretaries of the state departments of Health and Revenue.

William Lamb, a former state Supreme Court justice who heads the private legal team that Republican Gov. Tom Corbett hired to defend the state officials, said he plans to appeal Jones’ ruling to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by next week.

The defendants’ motion cited a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision to argue that federal courts lack jurisdiction over state marriage laws. But Jones said that decision has been eroded by the court’s subsequent rulings on constitutional challenges based on sex or sexual identity.

“The jurisprudence of equal protection and substantive due process has undergone what can only be characterized as a sea change since 1972,” Jones said in his opinion.

United Methodist jury convicts pastor for officiating at his gay son’s wedding

A United Methodist pastor was convicted on Nov. 18 of breaking church law by officiating his son’s same-sex wedding and could be defrocked after a high-profile trial that has rekindled debate over the denomination’s policy on gay marriage.

The Methodist church put the Rev. Frank Schaefer on trial in southeastern Pennsylvania, accusing him of breaking his pastoral vows by presiding over the 2007 ceremony in Massachusetts.

The 13-member jury convicted Schaefer on two charges: That he officiated a gay wedding, and that he showed “disobedience to the order and discipline of the United Methodist Church.”

The jury was to reconvene today (Nov. 19) for the penalty phase, where Schaefer faces punishment ranging from a reprimand to losing his ministerial credentials.

“Obviously I’m very saddened. What we’re hoping for tomorrow is a light sentence,” said Schaefer’s son, Tim Schaefer, 29, whose wedding led to the charges.

Testifying in his defense, the 51-year-old pastor said he decided to break church rules out of love for his son. He said he might have lost what he called his “ritual purity” by disobeying the Methodist Book of Discipline, but that he felt he was obeying God’s command to minister to everyone.

“I love the United Methodist Church. I’ve been a minister for almost 20 years and there are so many good things about the United Methodist Church except for that one rule,” said Schaefer, of Lebanon.

Schaefer, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, could have avoided the trial if he had agreed to never again perform a same-gender wedding, but he declined because three of his four children are gay.

The nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination accepts gay and lesbian members, but it rejects the practice of homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

The church’s lawyer, the Rev. Christopher Fisher, told the jury that Schaefer clearly violated the Book of Discipline. He said the complainant, Jon Boger – a member of Schaefer’s congregation – was dismayed and shocked when he learned this year about the ceremony.

Fisher used his closing argument to condemn homosexuality as immoral and said Schaefer had no right to break a Methodist law that bans pastors from performing same-sex marriages just because he disagreed with church teaching. He told jurors they were duty-bound to convict.

“You’ll give an account for that at the last day, as we all will,” he told the jury, to audible gasps from spectators.

Dozens of Schaefer’s supporters stood in silent protest as Fisher spoke, then linked hands and sang “We Shall Overcome” after the jury left to begin deliberating.

Boger, the church’s sole witness, testified Monday that he felt betrayed when he found out that Schaefer, who had baptized his children and buried his grandparents, had presided over a gay wedding.

“When pastors take the law of the church in their own hand … it undermines their own credibility as a leader and also undermines the integrity of the church as a whole,” Boger said.

“It’s his son. He loves his son. In a way I felt bad for him. But he’s also shown no remorse or repentance, nor has he apologized to anyone.”

When Schaefer chose to hide the marriage from the congregation, Boger said, “It was a lie and a broken covenant.”

But Schaefer testified he had informed his superiors of his part in the marriage. He said he kept it from his conservative church’s congregation because it would be divisive.

“I did not want to make this a protest about the doctrine of the church. I wasn’t trying to be an advocate,” Schaefer said. “I just wanted this to be a beautiful family affair, and it was that.”

Schaefer faced no discipline until April – less than a month before the church’s six-year statute of limitations was set to expire – when Boger filed a complaint.

Schaefer’s son came out to his parents at age 17, revealing he had contemplated suicide over his struggle with sexual identity and the church’s stance on homosexuality.

“He had heard messages that were hateful from the church, from the culture around him, that told him you’re not normal, you’re not valid, you’re a freak,” Schaefer testified.

The pastor said he and his wife told their son he was a “beloved child of God.”

Years later, Tim Schaefer asked his father to marry him.

“To say no to his request would have negated all the affirmations I gave him over the years,” he said.

United Methodist minister on trial for officiating at the wedding of his gay son

A United Methodist minister who officiated at his son’s same-sex wedding pleaded not guilty this week to charges that he broke his pastoral vows.

The Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon entered his plea at the beginning of a high-profile church trial in southeastern Pennsylvania that is rekindling debate over the denomination’s policy on gay marriage.

Schaefer could face punishment ranging from a reprimand to losing his minister’s credentials if a jury composed of fellow Methodist clergy convicts him of breaking church law that bans clergy from performing same-sex weddings.

The church’s attorney, the Rev. Christopher Fisher, told the 13-member jury in his opening statement that Schaefer clearly violated the Methodist Book of Discipline by presiding over the 2007 ceremony in Massachusetts. He said the complainant — a member of Schaefer’s congregation — was dismayed and shocked when he learned of the ceremony earlier this year.

Schaefer blessed a union that has been “declared by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teaching,” said Fisher, echoing the language of the Methodists’ book of law and doctrine.

Schaefer’s attorney, the Rev. Robert Coombe, told the jury that Schaefer had simply extended God’s love to his son.

“It’s important to him to practice in his family what he preached to his congregation,” Coombe said. “He did this wedding as an act of love and not as an act of rebellion.”

Dozens of Schaefer’s supporters held signs and sang hymns outside the trial, which is being held at a Methodist retreat about 60 miles east of his church, wearing rainbow stoles, holding signs and singing hymns.

“I’m in support of the church becoming a new church that welcomes everyone,” said Bunnie Bryant, 64, of West Chester, who was holding a sign that said: “Law or love? Jesus chose love.” She continued, “I question the church’s law trumping a father’s love.”

But a pastor who’s also attending the trial said that it isn’t about gay rights, but rather about Schaefer’s breaking of church law and his pastoral vows.

The Rev. Judy Kehler-Shirey, a retired Methodist minister who has attended Schaefer’s church, said she personally disagrees with the church’s policy on gay marriage but would not officiate at a same-sex wedding.

“I have a vow that is connected to all the other United Methodist pastors internationally. We have a covenant to follow the Discipline whether we agree with it or not,” she said. “That has to take priority.”

The nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination accepts gay and lesbian members, but it rejects the practice of homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

Schaefer has said he informed his superiors in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference that he planned to officiate his son’s wedding, and again after the ceremony, which took place at a restaurant near Boston.

He faced no discipline until April – less than a month before the church’s six-year statute of limitations was set to expire – when one of his congregants filed a complaint.

Schaefer could have avoided a trial if he had agreed to never again perform a same-gender wedding, but he declined because three of his four children are gay.

A Methodist trial resembles a secular trial in many ways, with counsel representing each side, a judge and jury, opening statements and closing arguments, and testimony and evidence. Schaefer can appeal a conviction, but neither the church nor the person who brought the charge may appeal an acquittal.

Methodist pastor faces church trial over son’s wedding

The Rev. Frank Schaefer officiated his son’s same-sex marriage “because I love him so much and didn’t want to deny him that joy,” but his decision to flout Methodist law could cost him his pastor’s credentials in the latest flashpoint of a debate roiling the nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination.

Schaefer, 51, faces a church trial in southeastern Pennsylvania over charges that he broke his pastoral vows by performing the 2007 ceremony in Massachusetts. The United Methodist Church accepts gay and lesbian members but rejects homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching,” and clergy who perform same-sex unions risk punishment ranging from a reprimand to suspension to defrocking.

The German-born pastor is unapologetic, saying he answered to a higher law — God’s command to love everyone.

“If I am charged to minister to all people, regardless of who they are and what they are, then it should be just so,” he said.

Hundreds of Methodist ministers have publicly rejected church doctrine on homosexuality, and some of them, like Schaefer, are facing discipline for presiding over same-sex weddings. Schaefer’s trial is set to begin Nov. 18 at a Methodist retreat in Spring City, Pa.

Critics say Schaefer and other clergy should not be permitted to flout Methodist teaching with impunity, contending they are sowing division within the church and ignoring the church’s democratic decision-making process. The denomination’s top legislative body, the 1,000-member General Conference, reaffirmed the church’s 40-year-old policy on gays at their last worldwide meeting in 2012.

Rebellious clergy “have decided to take the law into their own hands, so to speak, and go ahead and violate the requirements of our (Book of) Discipline,” the denomination’s book of law and doctrine, said the Rev. Thomas A. Lambrecht, vice president and general manager of Good News, an evangelical Methodist group. “They have in a sense renounced the process that we use to determine what the church believes about things. I don’t think that is the appropriate way to handle disagreement.”

On Saturday, some 50 clergy plan to show their support of Schaefer by presiding over a same-sex ceremony at a Methodist church in Philadelphia — a largely symbolic gesture since Pennsylvania doesn’t recognize gay marriage, but one that could still land the preachers in hot water.

“If we are operating under the position of open hearts, open minds and open doors, we can’t close those doors to certain people,” said the Rev. David Brown of Arch Street United Methodist Church, where the ceremony will take place.

Schaefer hadn’t given homosexuality a lot of thought until his son Tim came out at age 17, telling his parents he had contemplated suicide because of his struggle with sexual identity.

“Growing up as a ‘PK,’ a pastor’s kid, he didn’t think that he was the way he was supposed to be, that his sexual orientation was wrong and sinful according to the church,” Schaefer said. “He got that message from the church and the large culture that there was something wrong with him.”

To Schaefer, his son’s admission was proof that homosexuality is not a choice.

“If that’s the case, this is the way God made him,” Schaefer said. “This is the way he was created, as a homosexual.

Schaefer said he informed his superiors in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference that he planned to officiate Tim Schaefer’s wedding, and again after the ceremony. He said he faced no discipline until April — about a month before the church’s six-year statute of limitations was set to expire — when one of his congregants filed a complaint.

Schaefer could have avoided a trial if he had agreed to never again perform a same-gender wedding. That’s a promise he said he couldn’t make — because three of his four children are gay.

“I do worry about losing my credentials,” he said, “but I’m willing to lose them for an act of love.”

Supreme Court could decide ‘Boobies’ bracelet fight

The court battle between two girls and their school over “I (heart) Boobies!” breast cancer awareness bracelets could be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

School officials in the Pennsylvania town of Easton plan to appeal a federal appeals court’s decision that rejected its claim the bracelets are lewd and should be banned from school after a school district board vote in late October. Officials say they’re concerned about a “hyper-sexualized” school environment.

Easton is one of several school districts around the U.S. to ban the bracelets, which are distributed by the nonprofit Keep A Breast Foundation of California.

The case started in 2010 when two girls, then ages 12 and 13, challenged the school’s ban on the bracelets designed to promote breast cancer awareness among young people.

The students, Brianna Hawk and Kayla Martinez, said they merely hoped to promote awareness of the disease at their middle school. They filed suit when they were suspended for defying the ban on their school’s Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

In August, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s decision in favor of the girls, saying also that the district didn’t prove the bracelets are disruptive.

Superintendent John Reinhart told The Express-Times of Easton he supports the board’s decision.

In court sessions, Reinhart had called the bracelets “cause-based marketing energized by sexual double-entendres.”

An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which helped the girls challenge the rule, said Tuesday night the school had been hinting that it would petition the Supreme Court.

“I’m just really surprised that they’re so determined to fight this speech case of all speech cases,” said Mary Catherine Roper. “(The bracelets) didn’t cause any problems in the school.”

School district solicitor John Freund said the district had the backing of the National School Boards Association and the Pennsylvania School Board Association. He said they and other organizations are “concerned about the implications of a hyper-sexualized environment,” The Express-Times reported.

The lone board member to vote against the appeal said the district should just drop the matter.

“I think we should be done with it. Let it go. We lost 20, 30 times, I don’t even know anymore,” Frank Pintabone said.

Pennsylvania women demand marriage recognition in federal court

Two women who wed in Massachusetts before moving to Pennsylvania asked a federal court on Sept. 26 to force their new home state to recognize the marriage, as it does for opposite-sex couples.

The plaintiffs, Isabelle Barker and Cara Palladino, say they are being denied marriage-related benefits, from filing joint state tax returns to co-owning property. They also have encountered reams of paperwork for health care coverage and prepared legal documents to protect the interests of their son – red tape they say wouldn’t be needed if their marriage was recognized.

“My Massachusetts marriage certificate is the same as any other couple that comes from Massachusetts,” Palladino said. “It seems to me that that’s the essence of discrimination. If you’re taking the same piece of paper and you’re treating it differently because of our status, that doesn’t seem fair.”

Pennsylvania is the only state in the northeastern U.S. without same-sex marriage or civil unions. Like 36 other states, it also does not recognize gay marriages performed legally in other jurisdictions. The lawsuit asks a judge to declare unconstitutional the state law barring recognition of such unions.

At a news conference overlooking Independence Hall, lawyers for Barker and Palladino said the statute infringes on the pair’s constitutional right to travel among states without penalty and violates the guarantee that states will respect each other’s judgments and decrees.

The lawsuit notes Pennsylvania honors opposite-sex marriages performed elsewhere “without qualification or question.” Yet the plaintiffs “are denied the basic rights that were conferred on them by another sovereign state, solely because of a discriminatory, arbitrary and irrational distinction,” it says.

Palladino and Barker lived in Massachusetts when they got married in 2005 and moved to Philadelphia later that year, when Barker got a job at Bryn Mawr College. The couple had a son in 2009, and Barker said the boy has begun asking if his parents are married.

“And it’s sort of befuddling to us that we don’t have a really clear answer for him about that,” Barker said. “If we lived in Massachusetts, we would have a very easy answer: `Yes, of course.'”

Their lawsuit, which names Gov. Tom Corbett and Attorney General Kathleen Kane as defendants, is at least the fifth pending legal case regarding gay marriage in Pennsylvania. A representative for Corbett did not immediately return a request for comment.

In one of the other lawsuits, Kane has refused to defend the state law defining marriage as between one man and one woman. After the U.S. Supreme Court threw out part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act earlier this year, she called the Pennsylvania marriage statute unconstitutional – a statement she reiterated Thursday.

Corbett’s office is now defending that case, which was filed two months ago in federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania on behalf of 32 gay couples.

That complaint parallels a separate challenge filed on Sept. 25, in which 21 same-sex couples sued in state court to overturn Pennsylvania’s ban on gay marriage.

In another lawsuit, the state Health Department has sued to stop a Montgomery County official who decided on his own to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. A couple who married using one of those licenses also has filed their own lawsuit.

Barker and Palladino’s legal complaint was coordinated by the Equality Forum, a Philadelphia-based gay rights organization.