A federal judge on Tuesday struck down
a Pennsylvania law which prohibits gay and lesbian couples from
“We now join the twelve federal
district courts across the country which, when confronted with these
inequities in their own states, have concluded that all couples
deserve equal dignity in the realm of civil marriage,” U.S.
District Judge John E. Jones wrote in his 39-page ruling.
“[W]e hold that Pennsylvania's
Marriage Laws violate both the Due Process and Equal Protection
Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States
Constitution. … 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,” he
Plaintiffs in the case are 11 gay
couples and a widow.
The decision comes a day after a
federal judge knocked down Oregon's ban, clearing the way for Oregon
to become the 18th state, in addition to the District of
allow gay couples to marry.
Deb and Susan Whitewood, together 22
years with two teenage daughters and a two-year-old son, are the lead
plaintiffs in the Pennsylvania suit.
The Whitewoods are represented by the
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which filed the case in
Federal District Court in Harrisburg on July 9.
The case was scheduled to go to trial
in June, but attorneys for the plaintiffs last month asked Jones to
deliver a ruling without a trial.
At least four additional legal
challenges to Pennsylvania's restrictive marriage law have been filed
in state and federal courts.