Gay-marriage lawsuit to drop Corbett as defendant, add two cabinet secretaries

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett will be dismissed as a defendant in a federal lawsuit demanding gay marriage in Pennsylvania, but his secretaries of revenue and health will take his place, according to stipulations filed in the case today.

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 four-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.

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 elsewhere.”

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.

"There’s two things in life that are inescapable: Death and taxes," he said, and in neither does Pennsylvania recognize gay marriage.

The ACLU also released from the case 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 has also been dismissed. It was a defendant because an official there refused a marriage license to plaintiffs Deb and Susan Whitewood, but since they subsequently got married in Maryland, the county is no longer relevant to the case.

Bucks County's register of wills remains a defendant.

Attorney William H. Lamb, who is representing the state in the case, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Rich Lord: or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.

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