US District Judge John E. Jones, III ruled this afternoon that a law banning gay and lesbian marriage in Pennsylvania is unconstitutional. After yesterday’s victory in Oregon and today’s in Pennsylvania, we now have ten states who have had federal judges strike down a marriage ban after the US Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. “Today a federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush became the latest to uphold the most sacred ideals of this nation and our Constitution – that justice and equality matter above all else. It seems that every passing day brings LGBT Americans a new victory in our unwavering march toward justice. And thanks to our friends at the ACLU of PA and ACLU National, the attorneys of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller, and the proud plaintiffs who brought this case, the inescapable reality of full equality under the law is now one step closer,” President of the HRC Chad Griffith said.
According to the HRC:
Whitewood v. Wolf was filed on July 9, 2013 by the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the ACLU and counsel from the law firm of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller on behalf of 21 Pennsylvanians seeking the right to marry or for the Commonwealth to recognize their out-of-state marriages. The suit challenges a law passed by the state legislature in 1996 that restricts marriage to the union of one man and one woman.
In July of 2013, state attorney general Kathleen Kane announced she would not defend the state’s marriage ban. If PA Gov. Tom Corbett decides not to appeal today’s ruling, the Keystone State would become the nineteenth state with marriage equality, plus Washington, D.C. With Pennsylvania, nearly 44 percent of Americans would live in states where gay and lesbian couples can legally marry.
To date there have been at least six marriage cases filed in Pennsylvania, two in federal court and four in state court. Pennsylvania was the only remaining state in the Northeast without marriage equality. A March 2014 Washington Post-ABC News poll showed 59 percent of Americans support marriage equality.