In a statement on Wednesday, Gov. Tom Corbett said that since a challenge to Judge John Jones' decision “is extremely unlikely to succeed on appeal,” he has “decided not to appeal.”
According to the statement, Corbett “continue[s] to maintain the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman” because of his Catholic faith, but “my duties as governor require that I follow the laws as interpreted by the Courts and make a judgment as to the likelihood of a successful appeal.”
Diane Gramley, president of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania, said Corbett should expect his electoral chances to take a hit because of his “capitulation” on marriage. “I think this will hurt his race for re-election because the majority of Pennsylvanians will view the fact that Corbett won't even ask for a stay, never mind an appeal, as capitulation,” she explained.
Both Jones' decision and Corbett's have garnered immediate and harsh criticism from marriage supporters. The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference said on Tuesday that Jones' ruling “speaks to the confusion and misunderstanding among many today about the fundamental building block of society: the family.” The conference, which represents the state's three million Catholics, also said that “Catholic opposition to same-sex marriage is not a statement about the worth of human beings who experience same-sex attraction, but a statement about the nature of marriage itself.”
After Corbett's decision, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, said that “marriage deserves better, our democracy deserves better, and our children deserve better” than Jones' decision. In the ruling, Jones — who was appointed by President George W. Bush — said it was time to take marriage laws and “discard them into the ash heap of history.”
“This is a reckless and irresponsible statement,” said Cordileone, who heads the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
According to Gramley, Corbett's decision “fits his recent pattern of behavior. In December 2013, he announced his support for two bills that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, which addresses discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.”
Corbett, who made the decision on the same day he campaigned for re-election, faces Democrat Tom Wolfe in what is expected to be a close race in the fall. Gramley said “it may be that he made this decision in order to garner votes from the more liberal bastions of the state, but he's wrong. There's no way there would be enough liberals or moderates who will switch parties and vote for him just on this issue.” She says she got a call from the governor's office before he made the announcement on Wednesday, and she told the person on the phone that “if you truly believe in something, you will fight for it.”
Another critic of the decision, Christine Flowers, wrote in a column responding to Corbett's decision that allowing same-sex “marriage” to stand opens the door to polygamy. Flowers said Jones' decision also ignores the constitutional rule of law.