Judge strikes down marriage ban in Pennsylvania

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A federal judge struck down Pennsylvania's marriage ban on Tuesday, the second time in two days that a state marriage ban has been tossed out.

U.S. District Judge John Jones said his court is joining other district courts across the country in striking down same-sex marriage bans, according to Buzzfeed:

“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,” Jones wrote.

In concluding, Jones wrote, “[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. 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.”

Jones did not stay his ruling, meaning gay couples should be able to marry immediately. Rallies are planned across the state to celebrate the victory.

The ACLU and 21 Pennsylvania residents filed a federal lawsuit in July 2013 to strike down the state's gay marriage ban and to have the state recognize their out-of-state marriages. The lawsuit charged “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.” State lawmakers banned gay marriage in 1996.

Meet the diverse group of plaintiffs in the case, including Deb and Susan Whitewood (top photo). Maureen Hennessey and partner Mary Beth McIntyre, who died in May 2013, are featured in the video below.

The decision comes just a day after a federal judge struck down Oregon's gay marriage ban. Weddings quickly followed as the state became the 18th with marriage equality. Also on Monday, a federal judge ordered Utah to recognize more than 1,000 same-sex marriages that took place before the U.S. Supreme Court issued an emergency stay stalling a Dec. 20 ruling overturning that state's gay marriage ban.

In April, seven LGBT Georgians filed a federal lawsuit hoping to strike down the state's gay marriage ban.

Read the Pennsylvania ruling below.




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