V&V: You had a busy week last week on the legal front. What happened?
Geer: The week began with a phone call from a major national newspaper reporter, from whom I learned that the ACLU was about to file a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn Pennsylvania’s marriage law, and redefine this ageless institution. The week ended with Pennsylvania’s attorney general announcing that she would refuse to fulfill the obligation of her office and defend our state law in court. In between were numerous national, state, and local media interviews, followed by time spent at the capitol organizing a response and crafting legal and cultural strategies to protect and strengthen marriage.
V&V: You’ve been running PFI in Harrisburg for more than 20 years now. Are you surprised by the AG’s refusal to defend Pennsylvania’s marriage law? Do you recall anything similar happening?
Geer: There really is no precedent that matches the blatantly political move by Attorney General [Kathleen] Kane. Even the lead counsel in the ACLU’s lawsuit against our marriage law called her decision “an earthquake moment.” In a television interview during last year’s primary campaign for attorney general, then-candidate Kane stated, “The attorney general does not have the right to pick and choose which laws he or she enforces.” She said doing so injects politics into the job and, “That’s a dangerous proposition.” Even so, I was not surprised at Kane’s action – she is following precedents set by AG’s and other top elected officials in California, Illinois, and elsewhere, and by those in the U.S. Department of Justice on this issue. It really is a dangerous proposition, one that’s very damaging to our political system and the rule of law. I hoped for better from Kathleen Kane, but was not surprised when she did not deliver on her promise
V&V: Is this issue pertinent to people in other states around the nation?
Geer: It is in many ways – most notably because ultimately the ACLU is seeking to not only overturn marriage laws in Pennsylvania, but to impose a redefinition of marriage on the entire country. Such a Roe v.Wade-type sweeping decision would certainly not end the debate on the issue, but would usher in significant restrictions on religious liberty and free speech, not to mention the impact on marriage itself and the well-being of children.
V&V: Is the ACLU filing similar suits in other states. If so, why? Do you detect a political agenda beyond the legal implications of these cases?