US: Pennsylvania Governor released as defendant in equal marriage lawsuit
The Governor of the US state of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett, has been swapped out as a defendant in a federal case demanding equal marriage in the state.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU), and the state agreed to the swap, and the Governor will be replaced with his secretaries of revenue and health.
The swap was agreed because the ACLU said it wanted to keep concentration on its efforts for equal marriage. The group will file an amendment complaint in a week, towards its bid to overturn a ban on equal marriage.
“This lawsuit is about achieving marriage equality, and swapping in other Cabinet officials will concentrate everyone’s focus on the DOMA law’s constitutionality,” said ACLU state legal director Witold Walczak.
“There’s two things in life that are inescapable: Death and taxes,” he said.
He went on to say that Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser belongs as a defendant in the lawsuit because his department “creates a [tax] form that says you as a gay couple can’t fill this out as married, even if you’re married” out of state.
Also, Health Secretary Michael Wolf’s department does not recognise same-sex unions in death, Mr Walczak continued.
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“You actually cannot put down on your death certificate that you are survived by a spouse” of the same gender as you, he said.
The ACLU also released Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who refused several months ago to defend the state’s Defense of Marriage Act, which specifically defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
Washington County Register of Wills Mary Jo Poknis has also been released from the lawsuit as her office is no longer directly relevant to the complaint.
A 1996 state law defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The judge overseeing a challenge to Pennsylvania’s ban on equal marriage, earlier this month paused before setting a trial date in the case.
US District Judge John Jones III said he needed time to consider and rule on pre-trial motions, before setting a date for a hearing.
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.