Lawyers for Pa. request personal information of couples in gay marriage suit

    Lawyers in the federal lawsuit over Pennsylvania’s marriage law have asked the same-sex couples challenging the statute to turn over information on the biological parents of the couples’ children, whether they’ve been in heterosexual relationships in the past and health care providers.

    This week, the ACLU said lawyers “are continuing to negotiate” over requests that attorney Vic Walczak called “unduly burdensome,” in a letter to a federal judge last week. 

    Joel Frank, a partner at  Lamb McErlane, the outside firm the Corbett administration hired to defend the state’s law that marriage can only be between and man and a woman, also defended the questions as part of the fact-finding phase of the trial.

    “We at all times conducted discovery in good faith with no intention or desire to embarrass plaintiffs in any manner,” he said in a statement last week.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    Temple University law professor Eddie Ohlbaum said that, while he has not reviewed the details of the case, at first glance, some of the requests seem inappropriate.

    “Attempting to learn who the biological parents are of these young kids, some of whom may not know what ist going on at this point, borders on the outrageous,” he said.

    Temple Law Professor Lee Carpenter is co-counsel on another lawsuit in state court on behalf of a widow of a same-sex relationship. Carpenter said that, technicalities aside, “It seems really surprising to me that the attorneys for the governor’s office would choose to do something so sort of politically inflammatory, particularly before the gubernatorial election.”

    Defense of the state law fell to the governor’s office this summer after state Attorney General Kathleen Kane refused to defend it in court.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal