Gov. Tom Corbett, ratcheting up his campaign for a second term, has declared his support for legislation languishing in the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives that would outlaw discrimination based on someone's sexual orientation or gender identity.
Well, some discrimination, that is.
While portraying himself as a champion of gay and lesbian rights Corbett's legal team continues to battle the concept of same-sex marriage.
That battle, essentially defending a 1996 law that prohibits same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania and denying same-sex partners married in other states rights afforded to heterosexual couples married in this state, goes on full-tilt, causing one to wonder if Equality PA's reaction to the governor's announcement was actually sarcasm. Equality PA on Wednesday thanked the governor for "calling out discrimination in all its forms."
In fact, the only forms enumerated in the aforementioned bills are employment, housing and public accommodation. State law currently prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, education status, handicap or disability.
Meanwhile, the legal team hired by Corbett to defend the 1996 statute banning same-sex marriage against a suit brought by 23 plaintiffs, has inundated the other side with demands for information about previous relationships, and other private and personal information, thus steering the proceeding away from the constitutional equal-protection issues and into the seedy business of deconstructing the personal lives of the litigants.
Thus, it appears more than a bit incongruous that the governor has now donned the cape of a crusader for gay rights, while fighting tooth and nail to maintain the state's official denial of benefits based on sexual orientation.
We might be more impressed with the governor's epiphany on equal rights if he steered his legal team back toward the constitutional question in Deb & Susan Whitewood v. PA Governor Tom Corbett et al.