US: Pennsylvania counties ready to issue same-sex marriage licences if court rules in favour

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Counties in the US state of Pennsylvania have announced they are ready to immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the state, should a ruling, expected today, allow it.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit in July 2013 on behalf of 21 gay and lesbian couples. The federal lawsuit alleges 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.

The ACLU announced on Twitter that a Pennsylvanian judge is expected to make a decision on lifting the ban stopping same-sex marriage on 20 May 2014.

Despite that counties in the state such as Dauphin county, have said they are ready should Judge John Jones strike down the ban.

Some have speculated that the likelihood of same-sex couples being allowed to marry, in the case of the ban being struck down with no injunction to stop counties from issuing marriage licences immediately, is low.

Pennsylvania has a three-day waiting period, so any couple registering to marry today will need to wait until Friday to solemnise the union.

Pennsylvania’s State Treasurer announced in March that he’s backing a couple who are legally challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Yesterday, Oregon became the 18th state to legalise equal marriage with the same-sex marriage ban being struck down by Judge Micheal McShane.

A 1996 state law defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The judge overseeing a challenge to Pennsylvania’s ban on equal marriage, earlier this month paused before setting a trial date in the case.

In a brief statement , Attorney General Kathleen Kane said she would not defend the act, leaving Governor Tom Corbett to defend it.