Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sexual History of Plaintiffs Sought in Same-Sex Marriage Lawsuit

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sexual History of Plaintiffs Sought in Same-Sex Marriage Lawsuit

Article excerpt

Attorneys defending Pennsylvania in a federal court challenge to the commonwealth's prohibition on same-sex marriage have asked for "irrelevant," highly private information about the plaintiffs, their lawyer said, including whether they engaged in previous heterosexual relationships and who the natural parents of their children are.

Witold "Vic" Walczak, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, wrote in a letter to U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III Monday that the requests made as part of the ongoing federal lawsuit are beyond the scope of what is allowed in discovery and a violation of his clients' privacy rights.

Among the items requested, Mr. Walczak wrote in the letter, are documents showing "the natural parents" of both biological and adoptive children, which the lawyer noted would include any sperm donors; whether the plaintiffs were involved in any previous heterosexual relationships, and if so, the details of those; detailed information dating back 10 years for any other person with whom the plaintiffs resided; and the identification of "any and all health care providers from whom you have sought or received medical or psychological treatment or counseling for harm you have alleged to have suffered as a result of allegations" in the lawsuit. Mr. Walczak noted the complaint seeks no damages.

"Not only do these requests invade highly private and sensitive areas, none of them involve relevant information or are likely to lead to discovery of relevant information," Mr. Walczak told Judge Jones.

In his letter, Mr. Walczak also accuses the defendants of attempting to stall the litigation by refusing to meet with the plaintiffs on discovery issues.

Shortly after he filed his letter on Monday, the defendants responded with their own in which they address Mr. Walczak's allegations of trying to stall the litigation.

Attorney William Lamb wrote that the defendants were not refusing to meet on the case, but had simply been waiting until Monday, the date set by the court for responses for discovery.

"Defendants had every intention of reaching out to plaintiffs to arrange for a meeting to discuss the substance of discovery responses after those responses were submitted," Mr. …

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