US: Gay couples flock to register to marry after judge deems Pennsylvania ban unconstitutional

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Gay and lesbian couples in the US state of Pennsylvania have rushed to obtain marriage licences, as a judge struck down its same-sex marriage ban.

A 1996 state law defined marriage as between one man and one woman, but in a Tuesday ruling, US District Judge John Jones ruled that the ban was 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.”

Possibly due to the state’s three-day waiting period, reports came in from across the state of couples who had already filed for marriage licences. Some counties reported more than ten same-sex couples filing for marriage licences.

Some queued from the early hours to get their licence, and the first weddings are set to take place this weekend.

The state’s attorney general Kathleen G. Kane, who did not defend the ban, said: “Today, in Pennsylvania, the Constitution prevailed.

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

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.