Corbett dropped in Pennsylvania gay marriage lawsuit

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is out as a defendant in a federal lawsuit demanding gay marriage in Pennsylvania, but his secretaries of revenue and health are taking his place, according to stipulations filed in the case Friday.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and the state agreed to the swap, which will formally take place in a week when the ACLU files an amended complaint in its 4-month-old bid to overturn Pennsylvania's Defense of Marriage Act.

"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, and in neither does Pennsylvania recognize gay marriage.

Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser belongs in the lawsuit, Mr. Walczak said, 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" through a state that allows same-sex marriage.

Health Secretary Michael Wolf's department doesn't recognize gay marriage in death, Mr. Walczak added. "You actually cannot put down on your death certificate that you are survived by a spouse" if that spouse is of your gender, he said.

The ACLU released from the case state Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who has refused to defend the state's DOMA, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Washington County Register of Wills Mary Jo Poknis has also been dismissed. Her office refused a marriage license to plaintiffs Deb and Susan Whitewood, but they later got married in Maryland, so the official is no longer relevant to the case.

Bucks County's register of wills remains a defendant.

Attorney William H. Lamb, representing the state, could not be reached for comment.

Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 or on Twitter @richelord.


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