Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett won’t appeal a court decision that struck down the state’s gay marriage ban.
Corbett’s decision Wednesday means that same-sex marriage will remain legal in Pennsylvania, without the threat that a higher court will reinstate the ban.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge John Jones III struck down Pennsylvania’s 1996 law banning recognition of gay marriage, calling it unconstitutional.
Corbett’s decision goes against his political beliefs. He opposes same-sex marriage and supported thus-far unsuccessful efforts to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage.
But he says an appeal would be “extremely unlikely to succeed.”
“This is the Pennsylvania I’ve always dreamed about,” said Ted Martin of Equality Pennsylvania, an LGBT advocacy group in Harrisburg. “I’m truly grateful to the governor for being thoughtful.”
Pennsylvania is the 19th state to recognize same-sex marriages. Hundreds of gay couples applied for marriage licenses after Jones’ ruling Tuesday.
Pennsylvania was the last state in the Northeast to still outlaw gay marriage.
Corbett issued this statement Wednesday afternoon:
“I have thoroughly reviewed Judge Jones’ opinion … Given the high legal threshold set forth by Judge Jones in this case, the case is extremely unlikely to succeed on appeal. 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, the traditional teaching of my faith has not wavered. I continue to maintain the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. 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.
“Throughout the debate on this important and meaningful issue, I have maintained that Commonwealth officials and agencies would follow the provisions of Pennsylvania’s marriage law unless or until a court says otherwise. The court has spoken, and I will ensure that my administration follows the provisions of Judge Jones’ order with respect for all parties.
“It is my hope that as the important issue of same-sex relationships continues to be addressed in our society, that all involved be treated with respect.”
Emma Jacobs contributed to this report.