Relaymedia

Judge Dismisses Suit Seeking to Affirm Constitutionality of Penn.'s DOMA

A Pennsylvania judge dismissed Tuesday a lawsuit brought by a dozen state lawmakers seeking to have the state’s marriage law declared constitutional
( [email protected] ) Oct 21, 2004 04:15 AM EDT

A Pennsylvania judge dismissed Tuesday a lawsuit brought by a dozen state lawmakers seeking to have the state’s marriage law declared constitutional to protect it from a potential challenge by a homosexual couple seeking to marry.

The ruling comes nearly 7 months after Robert Seneca and Stephen Stahl, two homosexual men, were denied an application for a marriage license by the Bucks County Courthouse, which upheld Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act.

Seneca and Stahl said in several reports that they would likely challenge the law in the future.

Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg said the legislators had no legal standing for filing the lawsuit, Allan Egolf, et al., v. Robert Seneca and Stephen Stahl, since the defendants "have not taken any legal action regarding their marriage application, let alone brought an actual challenge to the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's Marriage Laws in any court."

Randall Wenger, an attorney allied with the legal group representing the legislators, decried the decision.

“The courts are constantly invalidating the will of the people as established through their elected state legislators. These legislators simply wanted to protect this law from being subjected to that kind of activism,” said Wenger, who joined Glen Lavy, senior vice president of Alliance Defense Fund’s Marriage Litigation Center, to argue the suit on October 7.

“Those who want to take apart the will of the people in this manner would love to see us on the defensive all the time. We chose to be proactive.”

The Legislature overwhelmingly approved Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. The law prohibits the state from sanctioning same-sex marriages and from recognizing those performed in other states.