HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA/AP) – Pennsylvania’s governor says he won’t appeal a court decision that struck down the state’s gay marriage ban.
Gov. Tom Corbett’s decision Wednesday means that same-sex marriage will remain legal in Pennsylvania, without the threat that a higher court will reinstate the ban.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge John Jones III struck down Pennsylvania’s 1996 law banning recognition of gay marriage, calling it unconstitutional.
Corbett released a statement saying:
“I have thoroughly reviewed Judge Jones’ opinion in the Whitewood case. Given the high legal threshold set forth by Judge Jones in this case, the case is extremely unlikely to succeed on appeal. Therefore, after review of the opinion and on the advice of my Commonwealth legal team, I have decided not to appeal Judge Jones’ decision.
“As a Roman Catholic, the traditional teaching of my faith has not wavered. I continue to maintain the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. My duties as Governor require that I follow the laws as interpreted by the Courts and make a judgment as to the likelihood of a successful appeal.
“Throughout the debate on this important and meaningful issue, I have maintained that Commonwealth officials and agencies would follow the provisions of Pennsylvania’s marriage law unless or until a court says otherwise. The court has spoken, and I will ensure that my administration follows the provisions of Judge Jones’ order with respect for all parties.
“It is my hope that as the important issue of same-sex relationships continues to be addressed in our society, that all involved be treated with respect.”
Corbett’s decision goes against his political beliefs. He opposes same-sex marriage and supported thus-far unsuccessful efforts to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage.
But he says an appeal would be “extremely unlikely to succeed.”
The American Civil Liberties Union released this statement following Gov. Corbett’s decision:
“We applaud the governor for letting the constitutional principles of freedom and equality ring throughout Pennsylvania by allowing loving same-sex couples to marry. As the judge noted, we are a better people than the marriage ban and the Governor’s historic decision not to appeal will be an enduring legacy.”
The ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project Director James Esseks said in a statement:
“This is a milestone for our movement. It reinforces the reality that this isn’t a partisan issue. It’s about fundamental fairness and dignity for all people, including lesbians and gay men.”
Pennsylvania is the 19th to recognize same-sex marriages. Hundreds of gay couples apply for marriage licenses after Jones’ ruling Tuesday.
Pennsylvania was the last northeastern U.S. state to outlaw gay marriage.
Meanwhile, Franklin and Marshall College pollster Terry Madonna joined Bill Rehkopf on the KDKA Afternoon News to talk about Gov. Corbett’s decision and what he needs to do in the upcoming election against Democratic challenger Tom Wolf.
“What’s going to happen is, he is going to have to convince his base. He’s got to rally his base in order to have a chance to win re-election, but here is the dilemma, about 65 percent of independent-minded voters say they support gay marriage, so you can’t win on just your base. You need it to get started, but you need to broaden it, and so he is trapped politically and that’s what we are talking about,” Madonna said.
Gov. Corbett said he is putting his personal views aside on this subject and doesn’t see a chance of winning an appeal.
“Eighteen states now have gay marriage and the District of Columbia. The Supreme Court in the Windsor case, that was the New York case that upheld the state’s gay marriage law, but did say it was up to each state to make that decision. That was actually the defense used by the Corbett administration before Judge Jones and the decision that was just handed down by that judge yesterday, but the evidence is mounting in state after state that gay marriage bans are going to be eventually found to violate the 14th Amendment,” Madonna said.
Madonna also talked about possible campaign strategies that Wolf and Corbett would use in the election: