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US: Judge to decide within a month whether case against Pennsylvania equal marriage ban to go ahead

Joseph McCormick October 10, 2013
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The judge presiding over a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s ban on equal marriage has said he will decide within a month whether the case will go to trial next year.

US District Judge John Jones III on Wednesday said he needed time to consider and rule on pre-trial motions, before setting a date for a hearing. He has said he will take up to a month to do so.

He said in particular that he wanted to consider a pre-trial motion filed by lawyer William Lamb last week on behalf of Governor Tom Corbett, and his health department, which says the court does not have the jurisdiction to rule in the case, and that it should be dismissed.

According to Lamb, the US Constitution bans lawsuits from being filed against state officials without their consent.

It went further to say that Corbett and Health Secretary Michael Wolf cannot be sued in such a court, as federal courts have no jurisdiction over such matters.

The lawsuit against the two was filed in July on behalf of 23 men, women and children. It is not the first legal challenge to Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban.

Republican governor Tom Corbett, who has held the position since 2011, made a comparison between equal marriage and incest last week during a news broadcast.

The Governor was asked about a statement his lawyers made in August, when they told a court that issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples was no different from issuing marriage licenses to children.

The 64-year-old, who had previously admitted the remark was “inappropriate,” told the station he now thinks “a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don’t you?”

He also used the appearance to say that he doesn’t think a pending legal challenge to Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage belongs in federal court.

Governor Corbett’s comments came less than 24 hours after two Pennsylvania lawmakers announced plans to introduce a bill to legalise same-sex marriage in the state.

Despite Governor Corbett’s staunch opposition to equal marriage, the two lawmakers said they were encouraged by growing support for the measure and that more than 30 lawmakers have signed onto the bill as co-sponsors.

A Pennsylvania county which was last month ordered to stop issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples announced it is appealing against the decision this week.

More: Civil partnerships, equal marriage, gay marriage, gay wedding, lesbian marriage, lesbian wedding, marriage, marriage equality, Pennsylvania, same sex marriage, Same-sex wedding, tom corbett, US, wedding

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