On 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 couples. The judge did not issue a stay in the ruling, so same-sex couples began applying for marriage licenses in Pennsylvania immediately.
The case, Whitewood v. Wolf, was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of PA, and private counsel.
The next day, Governor Tom Corbett announced that he would not appeal the ruling in the Whitewood case. Since the PA Attorney General had already announced that she would not be defending discrimination, the ruling took effect and Pennsylvania became the 19th state where same-sex couples can marry.
Marriage supporters worked together in 2013 and 2014 to form Why Marriage Matters Pennsylvania, a public education campaign designed to begin the conversation about the freedom to marry for all loving, committed couples in the state. As various marriage cases worked their way through the courts, Pennsylvanians across the state engaged in important conversations about why marriage matters and worked to create a climate for victory.
The ruling overturned a 1996 state statute approved by the Pennsylvania legislature that prohibited the government from respecting or performing marriages or other forms of family status for same-sex couples. Pennsylvania was one of the few states not to pass a constitutional amendment restricting marriage to different-sex couples.
GROUPS THAT ACTIVELY WORKED ON MARRIAGE:
- Why Marriage Matters Pennsylvania is the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples in Pennsylvania.
- Equality Pennsylvania works to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals in Pennsylvania through coalition building, education, organizing, and policy reform. Formerly, the organization was called the Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights, and later, Equality Advocates PA.
- The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership organization dedicated to defending and expanding individual rights and personal freedoms throughout the entire state of Pennsylvania.
- Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.
Pennsylvania residents are moving forward on marriage, with majority support: 53% say they favor a constitutional amendment that would allow same-sex couples to get married, with 37% saying they "strongly" favor it. Just 43% say they are opposed. (Franklin & Marshall Poll, May 2013)
NUMBER OF SAME-SEX COUPLES:
According to The Williams Institute's analysis of the 2010 U.S. Census, 22,336 same-sex couples are living in Pennsylvania, representing 4.5 same-sex couples per 1,000 households.
Blog Posts Related to Pennsylvania
This week marks big anniversaries for the freedom to marry in three states: Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Massachusetts.
Today, May 21, 24 hours after a federal judge struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex couples from marriage, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett announced that he would not appeal the decision.
It's been an amazing few months for marriage - and across the country, same-sex couples are rejoicing in the reality that it's time for marriage nationwide. The situation is no different in Pennsylvania, where gay and lesbian couples are sharing their stories and celebrating the big win.
Resources Related to Pennsylvania
While a lawsuit in Pennsylvania is ongoing and we are uncertain of its ultimate outcome, one thing is clear. LGBT citizens, those who are residents of our commonwealth and indeed LGBT citizens across the entire nation, must re-evaluate their estate and tax planning.
Demographic and economic information about same-sex couples and same-sex couples raising children in Pennsylvania.
Groundbreaking research showing a huge increase in same-sex couples identifying themselves as "unmarried partners".