Pennsylvania Won’t Appeal Marriage Ruling

Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania has decided not to appeal the federal court ruling, written by Judge John. E. Jones of Dover trial fame, striking down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage. In his statement, he said he didn’t think the state was likely to win an appeal:

Gov. Corbett on Wednesday announced he would not appeal the federal court ruling that struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriages.

In a statement, the governor repeated his personal opposition to same-sex marriage but said his administration lawyers had concluded that an appeal of Tuesday’s historic decision was “extremely unlikely” to succeed.

“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,” Corbett said. But, he added, “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. 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.”

The decision all but ends a years-long legal battle in Pennsylvania and moved the Commonwealth into the growing column of states giving recognition and legal protection to gay and lesbian marriages. It also could extinguish an fight that was poised to become a central campaign issue as the Republican governor seeks re-election in November.

Is it too late for someone to mount a Republican primary challenge to him? If not, there’s almost surely going to be one. If so, it’s a savvy move on his part.

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  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!


  • John Pieret

    When Oregon also decided not to appeal the ruling against its marriage law, NOM tried to intervene to defend the law. The judge there denied their attempt citing the Supreme Court ruling on Prop 8 that an outside group had no standing to appeal. I expect NOM will try again and lose again.

  • catbutler

    The primary was Tuesday, so no challenge.

  • whheydt

    Re: John Pieret @ #2:

    The trial judge rejected NOM’s request to intervene as “untimely” and just an attempt at delay. It was the 9th Circuit appeals court that rejected NOM’s effort to appeal on the grounds that–per the USSC in the Prop. 8 case–they lacked standing.

    In general, it is now trivial to track the states in which no challenges to SSM are taking place. There is only one left: North Dakota. (Per _Slate_, the problem in ND is finding plaintiffs. ND law has no protections for LGBTQ people in jobs or housing, so there are serious risks to challenging the anti-SSM laws.)

  • anachronistes

    I’m a lifelong PA resident. Corbett, when first elected governor (this is his first and hopefully only term) stated that he wasn’t thinking about serving more than one term. He then proceeded to enact a conservative agenda, which negatively impacted education, mass transit, and a host of social issues.

    Late in 2013 he announced that he wanted to seek reelection. Suddenly, new money was found for education grants. Mass transit and transportation problems began to be attended to. He decided not to appeal his Voter ID ruling. And now he decides not to appeal the same-sex marriage ruling.

    Savvy moves indeed. I watched interviews with him (when he was still Attorney General) before his run for office and voted for him based on that and personal interaction with the state AG’s office. I regretted my vote shortly after he took office, and I will absolutely NOT be voting for that slimeball in November.


  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Queer marriage has become a losing issue for republicans. Nothing says that quite as eloquently as a republican governor announcing as quickly as possible after the end of any possible primary challenge that that governor will not be appareling a ruling requiring recognition of same-legal-sex marriages.

    Ah, political cowardice, how I loathe thee even when it leads to positive results in this particular case.

  • John Pieret

    whheydt @ 4:

    I knew I shouldn’t have gone by memory … it’s not my long suit.

  • Orakio


    I don’t know how much of Corbett ‘about facing’ was really him having a change of heart, or honestly, even calculation for re-election – Between his own extremity and the Penn State scandal, he’s basically lost control of the state house and has minimal political capital at best. His 2013 budget had education cuts – the Republicans in the legislature told him to stuff it, as they still have to be accountable to voters, and the rural counties that make up their voter base took the cuts almost as hard as Philadelphia did. He still hasn’t managed to hand over the liquor system to Walmart. Turzai basically made the Voter ID law indefensible when he stood up and said it would deliver the state to Mittens. He doesn’t really have much choice, other than falling back on his owners’ core goals of ensuring free, non-accountable access to the state’s natural gas reserves.

    Corbett convinced me to vote Democratic for the first time in my life in 2010. The sooner this scumbag is out of office, the better off Pennsylvania will be.

  • anachronistes


    sounds like we’re traveling the same direction, from different paths. Corbett convinced me to never vote for a Republican again – unless, perhaps, I know the candidate personally, in a local race.