Pennsylvania Family Law and Divorce
Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C.

The Ban on Same-Sex Marriage Ruled Unconstitutional in PA

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III ruled the law barring same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania as unconstitutional today, May 20, 2014. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller represented 11 gay couples, two teenage children of a couple involved in the suit, and a widow. The plaintiffs sought Pennsylvania to both recognize gay marriages formed in other states as well as permission to marry in the state of Pennsylvania.

The attorney general, Kathleen Kane, refused to defend the state in upholding the Defense Against Marriage Act, therefore the Office of General Counsel was left to defend the state. The defense argued that the holding in Windsor v. United States only gave discretion to the states to chose as to who can and cannot marry. They further argued that the General Assembly only need a rational basis to enact a law, and this basis for DOMA was a basis in tradition and was thus rational.

The plaintiffs countered that there was no rational basis, and that this law was entirely prejudicial. Judge Jones agreed with the plaintiffs in his ruling. This ruling can be appealed, so at this point Pennsylvania will wait to see what happens next. It is generally believed that the United States Supreme Court will rule nationally on this issue within the next few years.

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