HARRISBURG — Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s office announced today it has hired a well-known lawyer from outside the government to lead his defense of the state’s same-sex marriage ban in a federal lawsuit.
The Office of General Counsel said West Chester lawyer Bill Lamb, a former state Supreme Court justice, was hired to be lead counsel at a rate of $400 an hour. His associates will be paid $325 an hour.
The federal case, filed two months ago, seeks to overturn the state’s 1996 ban on gay marriage. It was brought by a group that includes the widow of a woman who died in May after they were legally married in Massachusetts, 10 couples and one of the couples’ two teenage daughters.
The defendants are Corbett, Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Kane, the state health secretary and two county officials involved with the issuance of marriage licenses. A legal response by the state is due Sept. 16.
The case is separate from a proceeding in Commonwealth Court involving the Department of Health attempting to stop a suburban Philadelphia court clerk from issuing gay marriage licenses.
Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state that has neither gay marriage nor a system of civil unions.
Corbett has been handling the federal lawsuit since Kane said she views the state law as unconstitutional and will not defend it. He also filed the Commonwealth Court litigation.