Capitol Police arrest pastor praying for Pennsylvania attorney general
By Brad Bumsted
Published: Friday, July 12, 2013, 4:54 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Attorney General Kathleen Kane on Friday defended her choice not to support Pennsylvania's law banning same-sex marriage, a decision that brought her national publicity, praise from gay rights advocates and sharp criticism from some state residents.
Kane issued an unusual statement noting her office received “dozens of inquiries” since her announcement on Thursday. By 2:45 p.m., the office logged 86 calls and 50 emails on her decision not to defend the law she considers unconstitutional, said spokesman Dennis Fisher.
The American Civil Liberties Union and others on Tuesday filed suit against the state seeking to overturn Pennsylvania's 1996 law that fails to recognize marriages of gay and lesbian couples legally married in other states. The law defines marriage as a union between “one man and one woman.”
Harry J. Smith, an environmental and health safety manager in Collegeville, Montgomery County, told the Tribune-Review in an email that Kane “should be removed from office.”
“Ms. Kane is using the office and her authority to grandstand her personal opinions,” Smith, 51, asserted. “When Ms. Kane was sworn into office, she promised to support and defend the constitution of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For better or worse, that is her job. One cannot treat the constitution as an á la carte menu, to pick and choose what one likes and dislikes.”
In her defense, Kane said: “I swore an oath that I would obey and defend the constitution. What I did yesterday was simply that: I was obeying the constitution.”
Kane said the Commonwealth Attorney's Act, which created her office, contains a “specific, plainly written” provision granting the attorney general discretion to refer cases. Such referrals occur hundreds of times a year, Kane said.
Former attorneys general said that is common with ordinary lawsuits against the state and state agencies, but not lawsuits defending the constitutionality of a state statute.
A Montgomery County pastor, in an effort to see Kane, was arrested Friday while attempting to ride an elevator to a secure floor where her office is located.
Pastor Wiliam Devlin said he came to pray for Kane, so she would “have a change of heart.” Capitol police cited him for disorderly conduct and carried him out of Strawberry Square, said police spokeswoman Holly Lubart. He'll face a fine for the misdemeanor offense, she said.
Devlin said other pastors plan to come to Kane's office and pray for her.
“The Office of Attorney General was not involved,” Fisher said. “The Capitol police are responsible for safety and security of the area outside our office.”
Kane said some people asked why she won't defend Pennsylvania's marriage act but will defend the state's voter ID law in a trial that begins Monday. The ACLU and others are trying to overturn the law requiring voters to produce photo identification.
“There is a key difference between the two,” Kane said. “The Pennsylvania voter ID law is, on its face, constitutional. My concern with the voter ID law has always been in its implementation.”
The Defense of Marriage Act “is wholly unconstitutional. It cannot be fixed,” Kane said.
Gary Van Horn, president of the board of directors for Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, a gay rights group, said Kane's decision brought lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals “one step closer” to finally being treated as equal citizens.
Kane earned national attention with coverage of her decision in The New York Times, Huffington Post and a feature in The Washington Post blog titled, “Who Is Kathleen Kane?”
Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kovacevic: Big Ben’s contract clock ticking
- Parking tickets in Downtown Pittsburgh spark outrage
- Pittsburgh gets nonprofit help to build more bike lanes
- Talented center Sutter is proving to be ‘pretty important’ for Penguins
- Penn State’s Franklin cherishes memories of time spent in Pittsburgh
- Taillon among 6 Pirates send to minor league camp
- Analysis: Kesler still on Pens’ radar as Shero aims to bring back ‘Big 3’
- Western Pennsylvania engineer aboard missing Malaysia Airlines flight
- Penguins notebook: Beau Bennett returns to practice
- Agent confirms Mendenhall retiring from NFL
- Starkey: Steelers know when to say goodbye