Sexual History of Plaintiffs Challenging Pennsylvania’s Gay Marriage Ban Sought by Lawyers

The lawyers defending Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage from a court challenge brought by the ACLU are seeking ridiculous and undue requests for information on the sexual histories and relationship background of the plaintiffs in the case, Think Progress reports:

Vic_walczakAmong the requests, said [Witold] Walczak (pictured), are whether any of the plaintiffs were ever in a relationship with a person of the opposite sex and names and contact information for every person with whom they resided over the last 10 years. The state is also seeking the identity of all health care providers from whom the plaintiffs sought treatment or counseling for harm they allegedly suffered as a result of allegations in the lawsuit, Walczak wrote. […]

Other information requests by the state’s lawyers are unduly burdensome, including correspondence, letters, notes, records, reports, diaries or any other writings that pertain to the subject or events on which the lawsuit is based, Walczak wrote.

Adds Think Progress:

It’s unclear how this kind of personal information about the plaintiffs would be pertinent in a case about whether it’s constitutional for Pennsylvania to not recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. Details such as when they came out, whether they identify as exclusively gay (as opposed to bi), or whether or not they’ve ever struggled because of the impact of homophobia do not impact the validity of their current families. It’s possible that the $400/hour lawyers are planning to argue that the court should not consider sexual orientation with heightened scrutiny, which would require demonstrating that sexual orientation is not “immutable.” If any of the plaintiffs did, in fact, have opposite-sex partners at a previous point in life, they could try to argue that this is evidence of “change.”


  1. q says

    More than likely these creepy lawyers intend to play the ‘blame the victim’ game, as they do with Rape Victims.

    Of course everyone knows that in Pennsylvania, all heterosexual couples must submit lists of names and addresses of everyone THEY slept with (male or female) as well as medical documents proving that their years as a single person caused great damage to them.


    They don’t?


  2. david from Edmonton says

    This is pure intimidation and a violation of their rights. Find the dirt and embarrass them, like in the olden days when a rape victim was put on trial and their private lives were spilled onto the floor. The state should be totally ashamed of themselves and fight the matter based on law and personal and private information. it shows exactly how desperate they are.

  3. thetrack says

    What lawyers defending the ban are saying with their request of the sexual histories of plaintiffs is:
    “If we find plaintiffs have ever been in a sexual or pair-bonded relationship with another member of the same sex, then they should not be allowed to speak or challenge a ban on their equality. Gays are not allowed to stand up for themselves, or speak for themselves, and they can not be trusted to tell the truth.”
    THAT’S the purpose of those requests.

  4. JackFknTwist says

    Deny these vexatious and prolix requests and amend the pleadings to seek aggravated damages for the oppressive manner in which the state is conducting its defence.

    If they go to court on the motion you can appeal , if necessary , which it won’t be.

  5. says

    Deny the request and make them ask Judge Jones to issue a ruling. Requesting personal sexual history as part of discovery, that’ll set well with Jones I’m sure.

  6. says

    First of all, what is the point of making a request for something that is unverifiable? What type of documents prove sexual history?

    Second, who are the “lawyers” defending the state for $400/hr. I want to remind them how disgusting they are – contact information would be appreciated.

  7. bkmn says

    If I lived in PA I would be raising holy hell about a bunch of lawyers getting paid that much money to defend the indefensible while other worthy programs are being cut.

  8. todd says

    Simple tactic…ask for information which may be impossible to provide then request dismissal based on defense lack of information requested.

  9. unruly says

    Religion is not immutable and we give it heightened scrutiny. That is an irrelevant argument for scrutiny.

  10. says

    I’s purely an attempt at intimidation, and should be slapped down as such. I’ll be surprised if the judge doesn’t let them have it.

  11. YSOSERIOUS says

    Good for Judge Jones.

    I am glad to see judicial opinion actually following the letter as well as the spirit of the Law.

    I knew many lawyers and judges back in the day (mid-to-late 1970’s) who basically said that if the Constitution was actually followed AS WRITTEN, it would stop much of the malarkey we suffered. But nobody was willing to step up and say: Enough.

  12. jed says

    well, if they’re gonna play that game, require all anti-gay plaintiffs/defendants in other court cases to provide detailed verifiable documentation on exactly who are hurt by marriage equality and exactly how are they hurt. documentation should be submitted in triplicate, on legal-size paper, with one-inch margins on all sides, duly signed by five witnesses in front of a clerk of the court or notary. all arguments must be peer-reviewed by at keadt three nationally-accepted experts, one from the east coast, another from the west coast, the third from either alaska or hawaii.

  13. Lexis says

    Marriage is a civil contract. What does that information have to do with two adults forming a civil contract?

  14. Gay Guy says

    This request is so egregious that those who requested it should be held in contempt.

    Moreover, if somehow this is fair game, than the sexual history of those on the other side are also fair game.

  15. Rob says

    The next step is to insist that the documents never arrived and ask for them again. Been down that road. It’s a way to make a neighbor drop his lawsuit over your barking dog, but it’s not going to work on an issue like this. The ACLU is embarrassing their opponents and doing a great job.

    Ruth Bader Ginsberg was an ACLU lawyer. Best. Organization. Ever.