By TRIP GABRIEL
Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Kathleen Kane, said on Thursday that she would not defend the state against a lawsuit to overturn a ban on same-sex marriage.
Ms. Kane, a Democrat, traveled from Harrisburg, where the suit was filed in Federal District Court on Tuesday, to make her announcement at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. She quoted from Pennsylvania’s Constitution forbidding discrimination “against any person” and said that “disparate treatment” based on race, religion and ethnic origin were no longer tolerated, and “it is now the time here in Pennsylvania to end another wave of discrimination.”
The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union with 23 plaintiffs, including 10 gay and lesbian couples, two teenage children of one couple and a widow who lost her partner of 29 years, cites a ruling last month by the Supreme Court striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
It was the first of a wave of lawsuits that activists are planning to file to expand the number of states allowing same-sex marriage, including in Virginia and North Carolina.
Attorneys general in Illinois and California have previously declined to defend their states in similar cases. In Pennsylvania, the general counsel’s office of Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, was seen as likely to pick up the defense.
Ms. Kane, who was elected attorney general last year and has been mentioned as a possible future candidate for governor, struck a political note in her brief announcement to an audience that cheered and applauded her decision.
“I looked at it this way, the governor’s going to be O.K.,” she said. She wondered, she added, who would represent “the Daves and Robbies, who represents the Emilys and Amys?”
“As attorney general,” she said, “I choose you.”