Health - September 6, 2013

PA marriage issue heats up, Corbett hires former PA Supreme Court Justice

Governor Tom Corbett has hired former Supreme Court Justice William H. Lamb as part of the defense team in a federal lawsuit that seeks to overturn Pennsylvania’s marriage law.  Pennsylvania does not allow same sex couples to marry or enter civil unions and limits marriage to a union only between heterosexual couples. Lamb, was nominated to the PA Supreme Court by former Gov. Mark Schweiker and was approved during the Rendell administration.  He now is chairman of the law firm Lamb, McErlane PC in West Chester, PA.  He has previously served as Chester County District Attorney and Assistant District Attorney.  Lamb said his team is looking forward to offering their insights on the constitutionality of the matter at hand.

The Department of Health is also suing Montgomery County clerk Bruce Hanes; who began issuing marriage licenses same sex couples in July when the US Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.  That ruling led to PA’s marriage law, enacted in 1996, to be challenged in court.  Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has refused to defend the state law, stating that she finds it to be “wholly unconstitutional.” 

Last week Corbett’s lawyers used a controversial analogy in the lawsuit against Hanes; the lawyers likened Hanes’ issuing of marriage licenses to same sex couples to issuing marriage licenses to 12-year-olds.  Corbett’s office has since called the language inappropriate but that the remark was misrepresented there was no intent to make disparaging statements about any group.  The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has promised a prompt decision in that case.


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