Pennsylvania's marriage law perpetuates discrimination

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The Post-Gazette missed the mark when it took Kathleen Kane to task for failing to defend Pennsylvania's version of the Defense of Marriage Act. The attorney general is governed by the Commonwealth Attorney's Act which says:

"The attorney general may, upon determining that it is more efficient or otherwise is in the best interest of the commonwealth, authorize the general counsel ... to initiate, conduct, or defend any particular litigation ... in her stead."

Clearly, the AG has unlimited discretion to determine what is "in the best interest of the commonwealth," which includes not defending a statute that seems unconstitutional on its face after the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against DOMA at the federal level.

DOMA, like a long list of outdated laws that banned interracial marriage, the right of women and people of color to vote, the right of Catholics and Jews to live in neighborhoods of their choosing, and the right of women to maintain control over their own bodies, must be relegated to the dustbin of history.

Consider the fact that former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who signed Pennsylvania's DOMA into law in 1996, asked the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year to overturn this statute.

Excluding same-sex couples from marriage does not further any legitimate government interest; rather, it perpetuates the myth that lesbian and gay couples and their families are less worthy and deserving of equality and respect.

These attacks are coming primarily from those who already have the very rights and privileges they want to deny to LGBT people. If you want to defend continued discrimination then be honest enough to say so. Or you can be an advocate for equality and refuse to defend a law that has already been ruled unconstitutional. History will judge this to be a wise and principled decision.

President and CEO
Design Center of Pittsburgh
The writer was chairman of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission under Gov. Ed Rendell from 2003 to 2011.



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