Pennsylvania Gov. Corbett says he’s not going to fight ruling allowing gay marriage

May 21, 2014

A Pittsburgh crowd lifts a large pride banner May 20 in celebration of the court’s ruling. (Michael Henninger/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

Pennsylvania’s governor says he will not fight a Tuesday court ruling striking the state’s same-sex marriage ban, a decision that brought same-sex marriage to the last Northeastern state without it.

“Given the high legal threshold set forth by Judge Jones in this case, the case is extremely unlikely to succeed on appeal,” Gov. Tom Corbett (R) said in a statement Wednesday. “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 w​​avered,” he added. “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.”

Same-sex couples in Pennsylvania began receiving marriage licenses soon after Jones’s decision came down, but state law imposes a three-day waiting period to marry that can only be waived by a judge. Corbett’s decision puts to rest fears that the state would appeal the ruling, potentially convincing an appeals court to put the marriages on hold while the fight continued. 

Among the first to obtain licenses was Kerry Smith and her partner Rue Landau, executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.

“We were the first couple to get the marriage license in Philadelphia,” Landau told The Post before heading to a celebratory rally Tuesday afternoon. The two plan to be wed by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. The wedding could take place as soon as next week, Landau said. “This is all happening so fast,” she added.

Tuesday’s was the latest in a string of judicial victories for the same-sex marriage movement. The Supreme Court provided advocates legal ammunition last summer when it granted full federal recognition to married same-sex couples. Since then, 13 federal courts have ruled against state same-sex marriage bans in some form. Nine judges have struck bans while four have required states recognize out-of-state marriages.

Read more:

Timeline: The 13 federal rulings against gay marriage bans since June

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.
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