Constitutional Law

Federal judge strikes Pennsylvania ban on same-sex marriage; 19 states now OK such weddings


A federal judge in the Pennsylvania state capital struck down as unconstitutional Tuesday the 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,” said U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III in his written opinion striking the state’s 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. “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.”

His ruling in the Harrisburg case represents the latest of at least a dozen consecutive victories for proponents of same-sex marriages since a U.S. Supreme court ruling last year set the stage for a rush to the courthouse, Bloomberg reports.

CNN, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Reuters and the Tribune-Review also have stories about the Pennsylvania ruling. The state will be the 19th nationwide in which same-sex marriages are allowed, although the decision by Jones may still be appealed.

A federal judge in Oregon on Monday struck that state’s same-sex marriage ban. Meanwhile, a federal judge in Utah on Monday ordered the state to recognize approximately 1,000 same-sex marriages that took place there prior to a U.S. Supreme Court stay in ongoing litigation over the validity of Utah’s ban on same-sex weddings and a freeze on benefits to same-sex couples, the Associated Press reports.

Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania has not yet said what he plans to do in response to Tuesday’s court decision. However, the state’s attorney general, Kathleen Kane, called the state’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional and said she won’t defend the law. “Today brings justice to Pennsylvanians who have suffered from unequal protection under the law because of their sexual orientation,” she said.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Federal judge strikes Oregon’s same-sex marriage ban; 9th Circuit denies motion to stay order”

ABAJournal.com: “Lawyer who defended Prop 8 before SCOTUS is looking forward to daughter’s same-sex wedding”

ABAJournal.com: “Lawyer leaves Winston & Strawn to defend Utah ban on same-sex marriage”

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