Federal Judge Strikes Down Pennsylvania's Ban on Gay Marriage
U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones has struck down Pennsylvania's ban on gay marriage.
There appears to be no immediate stay of the ruling. Gay couples can marry now!
Based on the foregoing, we hold that Pennsylvania’s Marriage Laws violate both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Because these laws are unconstitutional, we shall enter an order permanently enjoining their enforcement. 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 issue we resolve today is a divisive one. Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of "separate but equal." In the sixty years since Brown (v. Board of Education) was decided, "separate" has thankfully faded into history, and only "equal" remains. Similarly, in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage.
We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.
Read the ruling, AFTER THE JUMP...
More on the case:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the American Civil Liberties Union, and volunteer counsel from the law firm of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller filed a federal lawsuit on July 9, 2013, on behalf of 21 Pennsylvanians who wish to marry in Pennsylvania or want the commonwealth to recognize their out-of-state marriages.
The lawsuit alleges that Pennsylvania's Defense of Marriage Act and refusal to marry lesbian and gay couples or recognize their out-of-state marriages violates the fundamental right to marry as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This lawsuit comes in the wake of the ACLU's victory before the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Windsor, which requires federal recognition for lesbian and gay couples who are married in their home states. Plaintiffs argue that the court should closely scrutinize this discriminatory treatment because the state's Defense of Marriage Act burdens the fundamental right to marry and because it discriminates based on sex and sexual orientation.
A video featuring two of the ACLU's plaintiffs, Maureen Hennessey (and her late partner Mary Beth McIntyre, photo top), AFTER THE JUMP...
Profiles of all the plaintiffs can be found here.
Maureen Hennessey lived with the love of her life, Mary Beth McIntyre, from 1984 until Mary Beth's death on May 18, 2013, at the age of 55. Together they raised three children in Philadelphia. While Mary Beth was suffering the physical and emotional pain of end stage cancer, she had the additional burden of worrying about how Maureen would manage financially after she was gone. Because their marriage is not recognized in Pennsylvania, Maureen must pay a 15 percent inheritance tax on half of their shared property, including their home. And unless their marriage is recognized in Pennsylvania before Maureen turns 65, Maureen will not be eligible to receive Mary Beth's Social Security benefits.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the American Civil Liberties Union, and volunteer counsel from the law firm of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller filed a federal lawsuit on July 9, 2013, on behalf of Maureen and 22 other Pennsylvanians who wish to marry in Pennsylvania or want the commonwealth to recognize their out-of-state marriages.