On Tuesday, July 9, 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a Philadelphia law firm filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). ACLU is representing 10 gay couples and one gay “widow” seeking to overturn the DOMA passed in 1996. Witold Walczak, legal director of the ACLU, claims that overturning Pennsylvania’s DOMA will not redefine marriage, only make it “fairer.”
The suit comes only 13 days after the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act in a 5-4 decision on the basis that the Federal law invaded the rights of the states to define marriage as they deemed best. At this time, only 13 states and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriages. The case is predicted to come to trial within the next year, move to the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, and then possibly, the Supreme Court. A federal judge will hear the case in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, located in Harrisburg, Pa.
On Thursday, July 11, 2013, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat from Scranton, announced that she will not defend the Pennsylvania law. Also named in the suit is Governor Tom Corbett, whose legal counsel could defend the DOMA in court. He has not yet indicated his intentions.
The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference will be watching the case closely. Marriage is a personal relationship with great public significance—not a private affair—that affects all in society. Marriage is not just about adult relationships, it is the foundation of the family. Every child has a mother and a father. And every child has a basic right to a mother and a father united in marriage. While circumstances may prevent a child being raised by his or her own mother and father, marriage is the way society provides for children’s needs in ordinary circumstances. There are many ways to protect the basic human rights of all, but redefining marriage serves no one’s rights, least of all those of children. Treating different things differently is not unjust discrimination.