News (USA)

Defendants reshuffled in lawsuit challenging Pa. same-sex marriage ban

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Lawyers on both sides of a court challenge to the state’s gay marriage ban have agreed to dismiss Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Kane as defendants.

Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane (left) and Gov. Tom Corbett
Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane (left) and Gov. Tom Corbett

Papers filed Friday in U.S. District Court said state Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser will be added as a defendant.

State Health Secretary Michael Wolf and the Bucks County register of wills were named in the lawsuit and remain defendants.

Wolf’s department deals with marriage and deaths while Meuser’s department enforces tax laws central to the plaintiffs’ goal of marriage equality, said Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union legal director Witold Walczak.

Walczak described the changes as largely procedural, designed to align the defendants with the constitutional issues the plaintiffs plan to raise.

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Judge John E. Jones III is considering pre-trial motions in the case. No trial date has been set.

Despite the governor’s d ismissal as a defendant, the state defendants will continue to be represented by a private legal team hired by the governor’s Office of General Counsel, spokesman Joshua Maus said Friday.

Kane, who took office in January as the state’s chief legal and law enforcement officer, refused to defend the gay-marriage ban on the grounds it violates the state and federal constitutions.

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