Pennsylvania taxpayers are paying $400 an hour for Gov. Tom Corbett (R) to fight a federal lawsuit that challenges the state’s 1996 ban on gay marriage.
On Thursday, Corbett’s administration announced the law firm of William H. Lamb, a former state Supreme Court justice, was hired.
Lamb will receive $400 an hour while his associates will make $325 an hour, according to The Morning Call. Additional taxpayer money will be paid to state lawyers working the case.
After the Supreme Court ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional in July, 10 gay and lesbian couples from across the state of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge the state’s own DOMA.
The 1996 law defines marriage are between a man and a woman. It also states that same-sex union performed elsewhere will not be recognized in the state.
Lamb was hired two months after state Attorney General Kathleen Kane withdrew from the lawsuit. Without her the state lacks legal expertise on constitutional claims, said Pennsylvania General Counsel James Schultz in a statement.
“The Office of General Counsel provides comprehensive legal services to numerous state agencies and executives, but we do not typically defend cases that solely challenge the constitutionality of a statute,” Schultz said.
Corbett also filed a separate lawsuit against the Montgomery County Clerk of Court for issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
D. Bruce Hanes, the Montgomery County Register of Wills, has issued at least 150 same-sex marriage licenses since July 24, stating that the state’s DOMA law is unconstitutional.
“Pennsylvania’s DOMA statute is arbitrary and suspect, and is very similar to the statute which was struck down [by the U.S. Supreme Court],” Hanes said.
The administration sparked outrage last week, when state attorneys compared same-sex couples to 12-year-old children.
“Had the clerk issued marriage licenses to 12-year-olds in violation of state law, would anyone seriously contend that each 12-year-old ... is entitled to a hearing on the validity of his ‘license’?” state attorneys wrote, according to Philly.com.