HARRISBURG, PA--(Marketwired - May 21, 2014) - Citing the waste of taxpayer funds, state Treasurer Rob McCord today urged Governor Tom Corbett not to challenge a federal court ruling that struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional.
"Appealing this decision and continuing to argue for the law in other same-sex marriage cases would amount to support for legalized discrimination, and it would waste more taxpayer money on morally indefensible court battles at a time when the state needs every nickel it can find," McCord said.
Treasury records indicate the Corbett Administration has spent at least $588,000 of public money so far for outside legal counsel to defend the same-sex marriage law, not counting internal state time and resources expended.
On Tuesday, federal Judge John Jones of the U.S. Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania voided a 1996 state law prohibiting same-sex marriage, saying it violated the United States constitution. The case is one of several related to same-sex marriage moving through federal courts in Pennsylvania.
In March, McCord submitted a friend-of-the-court brief concerning another case before the U.S. Eastern District Court in which the plaintiffs, a same-sex couple married in another state, seek to have their union recognized in Pennsylvania. Filing in his official capacity as treasurer, McCord described to the court how the marriage ban forces him to administer certain state programs in a discriminatory manner; he is required to deny same-sex couples financial rights and benefits afforded to others. (See a news release about the brief here.) The court accepted the treasurer's brief in April.
Pennsylvania is the ninth state in which a federal judge has ruled same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
"Many of the same arguments I made to the Eastern District Court apply in the case that Judge Jones just decided, and in similar cases across the country," McCord said. "I hope Governor Corbett will acknowledge the growing awareness in Pennsylvania and all over American that everyone is entitled to the pursuit of happiness and to equal treatment under the law when it comes to marital rights. He should not appeal this decision.
"Also, while the main issue involved is one of basic human rights, the governor can do himself and the taxpayers a favor by dropping this case. Next month, he is going to face difficult choices as he balances his budget. Here is an easy choice: don't waste any more money on court battles the majority of Pennsylvania citizens don't want to wage," McCord added.
Invoices submitted by the Corbett Administration to Treasury since June 1, 2013 show $588,000 in legal fees for the law firm of Lamb McErlane PC to defend Pennsylvania's same-sex marriage statute.
State Attorney General Kathleen Kane declined last year to defend the commonwealth statute in federal court. The Corbett Administration's general counsel assumed responsibility for the lawsuits, and hired the law firm of former state Supreme Court Justice William Lamb.
For more information, visit www.patreasury.gov.