GOP governor won't appeal ruling legalizing gay marriage

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) on Wednesday said he would not appeal a federal court’s ruling from a day earlier that knocked down the state’s ban on gay marriage.

“Given the high legal threshold set forth by Judge Jones in this case, the case is extremely unlikely to succeed on appeal,” Corbett said in a statement. “Therefore, after review of the opinion and on the advice of my Commonwealth legal team, I have decided not to appeal Judge Jones’ decision.” 

As a Roman Catholic, Corbett said he believes marriage should be between a man and woman. But as governor, he said he must follow how courts interpret laws.

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“The court has spoken, and I will ensure that my administration follows the provisions of Judge Jones’ order with respect for all parties,” he said. 

The Keystone State becomes the 19th state, and the last in the Northeast, to legalize same-sex marriage. New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Maine legalized gay marriage between 2003 and 2013.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge John Jones ruled that Pennsylvania's 1996 ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

"We are better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history," he wrote in the ruling.

"By virtue of this ruling, same-sex couples who seek to marry in Pennsylvania may do so, and already married same-sex couples will be recognized as such in the Commonwealth," he added. 

Unlike Corbett, many Republican governors have appealed similar rulings on the issue.

Corbett is up for reelection in November, and Democratic businessman Tom Wolf, who won the primary Tuesday, will challenge him. In a February Quinnipiac University poll, Wolf led Corbett by 19 percentage points in a hypothetical matchup.

The ruling comes after a judge in Oregon decided Monday that the state’s gay marriage ban was unconstitutional. Last week, judges in Arkansas and Idaho struck down their states’ bans, but the decisions have been delayed pending appeal.