FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 21, 2014
Contact: Elizabeth Ray or Matille Thebolt (703-683-5004)
"Marriage is a unique public good that deserves a vigorous defense; however Governor Corbett has refused to step up to the task, and chosen instead to defend himself and his political aspirations." — Brian Brown, NOM president —
Washington, D.C. — The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today strongly criticized Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett for refusing to appeal Tuesday's decision by Judge John E. Jones, III's in Whitewood v. Wolf. The case was a challenge to Pennsylvania's 1996 Defense of Marriage Act; the Judge ruled that such laws should be "discard[ed]… into the ash heap of history."
"Governor Corbett claims to be a man of principle and a supporter of marriage. Indeed, in the very statement issued today announcing that he will not appeal this ruling, Corbett cites his own Catholic faith with regard to marriage," said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage.
"But Governor Corbett is abandoning marriage with this choice. He is also turning his back on the people of Pennsylvania and selling out his principles precisely when it is most necessary that he stand by them! Marriage is a unique public good that deserves a vigorous defense; however Governor Corbett has refused to step up to the task, and chosen instead to defend himself and his political aspirations."
While Pennsylvania passed its Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, multiple attempts by the legislature since then to put the matter on the ballot for a popular referendum have been unsuccessful, leaving Pennsylvanians without any opportunity to directly affect the question of marriage and how it should be legally defined.
"Governor Corbett's refusal to appeal this ruling completes the disenfranchisement of the people of Pennsylvania," Brown continued. "For years they have been denied the right to vote on marriage. Now Governor Corbett has communicated to citizens of Pennsylvanians who have been fighting to be heard on this issue that he will join the ranks of the political elites unwilling to listen. Accordingly, Pennsylvania's voters must show Governor Corbett that he will be held accountable."
Brown said that the National Organization for Marriage is itself evaluating whether it could intervene in this case on behalf of its Pennsylvania members. It is also looking into what other options might exist to work with people or groups in the state who have standing to mount the strong defense of marriage called for in this case.
Brown said the case is winnable, pointing for support to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to issue a stay in a decision overturning Utah's marriage amendment, as well as to the recent Affirmative Action ruling in Michigan. In the Michigan case, the Supreme Court indicated that social policy decisions, even divisive ones, can be reasonably adjudicated by the people of a state.
"The fact is that if Governor Corbett stood by the principles he claims, he'd have chosen to defend marriage to the very end," Brown added. "The Supreme Court has indicated that they believe marriage should be left to the states and it is within states' rights to decide the matter. The Court very recently indicated as well a favorable view of the democratic role of the popular referendum process. In short, the challenge that the Governor is running away from today is one he most certainly could have won. So someone must step in and work to win."
Paid for by The National Organization for Marriage, Brian Brown, president. 2029 K Street NW, Suite 300 Washington, DC 20006, not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. New § 68A.405(1)(f) & (h).