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Rick Santorum inadvertently helped advance LGBT rights in Pennsylvania

Bill Pugliano / Getty Images News

LGBT rights opponent Rick Santorum endorsed the judge who just today struck down Pennsylvania's same-sex marriage ban.

When he represented Pennsylvania in the Senate, Santorum asked his colleagues to confirm then-attorney John Jones to the Federal Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Jones was appointed by former President George W. Bush, who also opposed same-sex marriage rights.

"Attorneys Jones and Conner are highly qualified to assume the important role of Judge and the duty of protecting the Constitution and ensuring the effective operation of our judicial system," Santorum said in a 2002 statement. "Since the onset of the war against terrorism, our federal judiciary has taken on an even higher level of importance, and it is imperative that we provide our courts with the resources necessary to enforce the rule of law. These judgeships are vital to our national security goals, and I urge my colleagues to work with the President to fill these vacancies in a timely manner."

That endorsement, however, came at a very different time for the landscape of LGBT rights. Back in 2002, even Massachusetts didn't allow same-sex marriages. Today, it's allowed in 19 states, with most states legalizing same-sex marriages in just the past few years.

Santorum, once a Republican presidential contender, has consistently opposed LGBT rights, from same-sex marriage to a Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal.

Jones, on the other hand, didn't mince words in today's ruling as he rejected his state's ban on same-sex marriages.

"We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history," Jones wrote.

Correction: This post originally misidentified when same-sex marriages began in Massachusetts.

Hat tip to Dave Weigel for uncovering the statement.