History is repeating itself in Pennsylvania as the Corbett Administration has hired a private law firm to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage in federal court. The move comes two months after Attorney General Kathleen Kane withdrew from the case citing the likely unconstitutionality of the ban.
The 1996 ban on same-sex marriage states that marriage can only be between a man and a woman and that any unions entered into by same-sex couples in other states cannot be recognized in Pennsylvania. The last bit would prove Constitutionally difficult to defend due to the Full Faith and Credit Clause as well as the precedent set by Loving v. Virgnia.
The Full Faith and Credit Clause states that a contract (including marital contract) entered into in one state must be recognized by all states within the United States. Loving v. Virginia established that the right to marry whomever you want as long as they can consent and sign the forms is a human right, and that a couple’s marital contract does not end when they cross state lines.
The Corbett Administration will pay the Lamp McErlane PC law firm of West Chester, PA $400 per hour for Lamp and $325 an hour to his associates while they work on the case. State lawyers will also be paid for working on the case.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) spent more than $2.3 million defending the Defense of Marriage Act in the Federal Courts last year. The Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional back in June.
The decision to hire a private lawyer is not surprising given the Corbett Administration’s adamant desire to make sure that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage remains in place.