Top Attorney Hired to Protect Pennsylvania Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Friday, 06 Sep 2013 02:31 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's administration has hired a prominent Republican lawyer to defend the state in a same-sex-marriage lawsuit.

Former Pennsylvania Supreme County Justice William Lamb, a former district attorney for Chester County, will represent the state in the suit filed by 10 plaintiffs who claim their civil rights were violated by Pennsylvania's ban on gay marriage, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The state hired Lamb after Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat, said she would not defend the case following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Lamb said in a statement that he looks forward to "offering our insights to this serious constitutional question."

The Republican governor filed a lawsuit to block same-sex marriage licenses after Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes issued 154 of them to gay and lesbian couples over the past four weeks.

In the legal filing, state attorneys said those marriage licenses were never valid and compared gay and lesbian couples to "12-year-olds," who also are barred by state law from tying the knot.

"This case is about one thing: whether a local official may willfully disregard a statute based on his personal legal opinion that the statute is unconstitutional," the brief said.

A 1996 state law says only men and women can marry. Hanes argues that the statute is unconstitutional and discriminatory.

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