On Tuesday, gay marriage advocates announced suits in three states: Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina.

Deb and Susan Whitewood, together 22 years with two teenage daughters and a two-year-old son, are challenging Pennsylvania's ban on same-gender marriage.

The Whitewoods are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which filed the case in Federal District Court in Harrisburg. Plaintiffs include 10 couples in long-term committed relationships plus one widow.

β€œWhat we're looking for is the validation from the legal system that we are equal in our marriage as anyone else,” Susan Whitewood, 49, told The New York Times.

The ACLU is also backing challenges in Virginia and North Carolina.

Opponents won their last victory in North Carolina, where voters approved a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual unions.

The ACLU said that in North Carolina it was adding marriage claims to an existing case seeking second parent adoptions for families headed by gay couples.

β€œIn light of the Supreme Court's focus in United States v. Windsor on how children are harmed by the exclusion of same-sex couples from federal recognition of their parents' marriages, it's clear that the harms at the center of our North Carolina case will resonate with the court.”

The ACLU will partner with Lambda Legal to file a suit in Virginia.