Pennsylvania judge strikes down ban on marriage equality

U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III has struck down Pennsylvania's ban on marriage equality.

“It’s always a good day in PA when love wins. Equality PA members have been waiting for this day for a long time, and we thank Judge Jones for being fair minded in his decision, said Ted Martin, Executive Director for Equality PA. "Marriage really matters to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender couples in deeply important ways. We hope that Gov. Corbett decides not to appeal this important decision and we look forward to celebrating many weddings in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.”

Buzzfeed has the details:

“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.

Although Pennsylvania has no constitutional amendment barring same-sex couples from marrying, Jones on Tuesday struck down the state’s 1996 statute banning same-sex couples from marrying and barring recognition of out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples.

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.”

Pennsylvania's Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, refused to defend the ban, also calling it unconstitutional. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is defending the ban.

The judge issued no stay on the order, meaning that marriages can possibly begin immediately.