SCRANTON—Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Kathleen Kane said she will not defend a 17-year-old state law that essentially banned gay marriage.
“I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s version of DOMA, where I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional.”
Kane made the announcement from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia Thursday.
Kane, a Democrat and the state’s first female attorney general, is personally named in a lawsuit filed this week seeking to overturn the state law.
Governor Tom Corbett is also a defendant in the lawsuit.
Kane is refusing to defend the constitutionality of the state law, so attorneys for the governor’s office will have to do it.
In his Scranton law office, Ernest Preate read the statute allowing the attorney general to step aside if it is more efficient or in the state’s best interests.
Preate was Pennsylvania’s Attorney General from 1989 to 1995.
“I have never seen it. I have never seen this happen, in all the years since the attorney general’s office has been an independent agency of government. Since 1980, I’ve never seen this happen,” said Preate.
Preate said he is not surprised Kane does not want to defend the law, but he is surprised she publicly called it unconstitutional, a move which he said put the governor and herself in a tough spot, considering they are being sued.
Preate explained when Kane agreed with the other side, she essentially admitted the state, herself, and perhaps, even the governor, are in the wrong.
“It does present a problem for the governor’s office now to step in and try to defend the constitutionality of it when you have the person who is in charge of defending the constitutionality of all statutes, the attorney general, saying it’s not constitutional.”
The Governor’s Office had no comment about Kane’s position.
The American Civil Liberties Union has released a statement applauding Kane’s position.