Pa.’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban Struck Down

A federal judge in Pennsylvania has struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, clearing the way for same-sex couples to begin getting married in the Commonwealth.

“We now join the twelve federal district courts across the country which, when confronted with these inequities in their own states, have concluded that all couples deserve equal dignity in the realm of civil marriage,” said U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III.

In concluding, Jones wrote, “By virtue of this ruling, same-sex couples who seek to marry in Pennsylvania may do so, and already married same-sex couples will be recognized as such in the Commonwealth.” The full opinion from Judge Jones is available here.

Multiple same-sex couples sued the state in July 2013  for the right to marry in Pennsylvania or to have their out-of-state same-sex marriages legally recognized. A 1996 state law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU, and an official press release on behalf of the ACLU announcing the victory is available here.

“This is a momentous day for our clients and all same-sex couples in Pennsylvania who want to have their love and commitment to each other recognized in the same way as that of other couples,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

Pa. Gov. Tom Corbett is defending the state’s ban, although Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane (a Democrat) will not represent Corbett in the case because she believes the ban to be unconstitutional – and now a federal judge has agreed with her.

In a statement, Kane said, “This is a historic day. More importantly, today brings justice to Pennsylvanians who have suffered from unequal protection under the law because of their sexual orientation. When state-sponsored inequality exists, citizens are deprived of the full protections that the Constitution guarantees. Our Commonwealth progressed today and so have the hopes and dreams of many who suffer from inequality. Today, in Pennsylvania, the Constitution prevailed.”

The Philadelphia Register of Wills is extending hours until at least 5:30 p.m. to accept marriage-license applications. Couples will have to wait the standard three days to marry.

Same-sex couples can now legally marry in 18 states and Washington, D.C.

There will be a rally at 5 p.m. today at City Hall to celebrate the historic victory.

 

 

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