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Pa. lawyers defend gay marriage ban

| Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, 9:18 p.m.

HARRISBURG — Lawyers for Gov. Tom Corbett's administration are urging a state judge to uphold Pennsylvania's ban on gay marriage by throwing out a lawsuit brought by more than two dozen same-sex couples that challenges its constitutionality.

Attorneys for Health Secretary Michael Wolf filed a brief this week in Commonwealth Court, opposing the lawsuit brought by 28 same-sex couples who obtained marriage licenses from a suburban Philadelphia court clerk last year.

They drew distinctions between the case and last year's landmark gay marriage ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, saying the ruling did not say states must allow or recognize same-sex marriage or say it would be a constitutional violation to limit marriages to between a man and a woman.

“Same-sex marriage is not deeply rooted in our nation's history so as to be implicit in the concept of ordered liberty and, therefore, cannot be considered a fundamental right,” the attorneys argued, adding that a majority of states still limit marriages to between a man and a woman.

“The very recent developments among a minority of states do not transform same-sex marriage into a ‘deeply rooted' historical and traditional right,” the state's lawyers said.

The Pennsylvania lawsuit is one of several court challenges to the ban.

Alexander Bilus, who represents the couples who filed the lawsuit, called the administration's briefs unconvincing and said his side would produce a response for the court. Bilus said judicial decisions generated in the wake of the United States v. Windsor case that resulted in the landmark ruling have tended to support his clients' position.

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