US: Pennsylvania same-sex marriage ban struck down

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In a ruling made on Tuesday a federal judge deemed Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

A 1996 state law defined marriage as between one man and one woman.

In Tuesday’s ruling, US District Judge John Jones ruled that the ban is unconstitutional.

He wrote: “We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”

Jones did not issue a stay in the ruling, meaning that weddings can begin in three days’ time, in accordance with state marriage law.

The state’s attorney general Kathleen G. Kane, who did not oppose the case, said:

“Today, in Pennsylvania, the Constitution prevailed.

“Inequality in any form is unacceptable and it has never stood the test of time.

“I have remained steadfast in my decision not to defend Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act because I made a legal determination as to the unconstitutionality of this law. I am pleased that a learned legal mind such as Judge Jones ruled similarly.”

“More importantly, today brings justice to Pennsylvanians who have suffered from unequal protection under the law because of their sexual orientation.

“When state-sponsored inequality exists, citizens are deprived of the full protections that the Constitution guarantees. Our Commonwealth progressed today and so have the hopes and dreams of many who suffer from inequality.”

The ACLU filed the lawsuit in July 2013 on behalf of 21 gay and lesbian couples. The federal lawsuit alleged the state’s Defense of Marriage Act including refusal to marry same-sex couples violates the fundamental right to marry and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, according to the ACLU.

Same-sex couples recently filed for a summary judgement in the same-sex marriage ban case, almost a year after the original lawsuit by the ACLU.