Federal judge strikes down PA marriage ban; 19th consecutive win since June
May 20, 2014
Today, May 20, 2014, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, a federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush, ruled in favor of the freedom to marry, striking down Pennsylvania's ban on marriage for same-sex couple and becoming the latest judge in an amazing year of victories for marriage in every corner of the country. The ruling is the 19th consecutive victory in state and federal court for the freedom to marry since the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Windsor v. United States in June 2013. The ruling is the 15th win in federal court for marriage since June and comes less than 24 hours after two wonderful wins in Oregon and Utah.
The decision was issued in Whitewood v. Wolf, a federal marriage case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of PA, and private counsel from Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller and Seth Kreimer.
The judge wrote, in his moving conclusion:
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 according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of 'separate but equal.'
In the sixty years since Brown was decided, 'separate' has thankfully faded into history, and only 'equal' remains. Similarly, in future generations the label 'same-sex marriage' will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by 'marriage.'
We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.
Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, commented on the ruling today. He said:
Today's win in Pennsylvania finally brings the freedom to marry to the entire Northeast. Loving and committed couples and their families in the nation's sixth largest state will be able to share in the joy, security and dignity that come with the freedom to marry. The stone that was once left out has become the keystone, and now it's time to finish the job nationwide.
Freedom to Marry is a founding and leading partner in Why Marriage Matters Pennsylvania and celebrates this momentous day in the Keystone State!
Judges have struck down marriage bans now in 8 states in the past few months: Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Idaho, Oregon, and now Pennsylvania. More limited decisions in favor of the freedom to marry have been handed down in Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, and Ohio.
More than 70 cases are currently pending in state and federal court in more than 30 states and territories across the United States.