As expected, a U.S. District Court judge has just announced that Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, marking the 14th straight win in federal court for same-sex marriage in less than one year. Judge John E. Jones III, a Republican who had served as Co-Chairman of Republican Governor-elect Tom Ridge’s transition team, ruled. Pennsylvania had been the only northeastern state which did not allow either same-sex marriages.
Judge Jones, in his opinion, writes, “we hold that Pennsylvania’s Marriage Laws violate both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendmentto the United States Constitution.”
“The issue we resolve today is a divisive one. Some of our citizens are madedeeply 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.”
The case, Whitewood v. Wolf, brought by ten same-sex couples plus two of their children and a widow whose legal wife passed away (image), claimed that “denying them the right to marry serves only to disparage and injure lesbian and gay couples and their families.”
While Pennsylvania has a three-day waiting period before marriage licenses are valid, county clerks are expected to waive that requirement, as has happened in many other states.
Announcing that “equality is fundamental,” Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane had refused to defend the ban on same-sex marriage. Republican governor Tom Corbett then went out and hired attorneys to defend the ban, at a cost of $300-$400 per hour. Recently, the Pennsylvania Auditor general lambasted the move as costing the state and its residents “millions.” Corbett last year, under attack for defending the ban, compared same-sex marriage to incest.
Last year, Montgomery County clerk Bruce Hanes started issuing licenses to same-sex couples, until a federal judge ordered him to stop. All told, 164 couples who otherwise could not have been married in the Keystone State had tied the knot.
A May, 2013 poll found 54 percent of Pennsylvanians support the freedom to marry.
The ACLU is hosting rallies today.
— Joshua Israel (@jeisrael) May 20, 2014
County registers in PA don’t have power to waive 3-day wait w marriages licenses, association prez tells me.
— Tony Merevick (@tonymerevick) May 20, 2014
This is a breaking news and developing story — stay tuned for more throughout the day today.
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