OR, PA bans on same-sex marriage ruled as unconstitutional

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Philadelphia, PA, United States (4E) – A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that Pennsylvania’s 1996 law banning gay marriage is unconstitutional. The ruling comes a day after a judge in Oregon struck down a similar law.

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III’s ruling paved way for the first women couple in the state to obtain a marriage license from Philadelphia’s city hall. Ruthellen Landau, 45, and Kerry E. Smith, 42, set their wedding next Tuesday with a representative of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter presiding.

Same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some but the discomfort does not make its prohibition constitutional, according to Jones in his 36-page opinion. Jones also said that already married same-sex couples will be recognized as such in the Commonwealth.

Gov. Tom Corbett has 30 days to appeal Jones’ decision on the Whitewood v. Wolf case before the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Twenty-three people filed the lawsuit against the state’s gay marriage ban law. They argued that the law violates the constitution by excluding same-sex couples from the same legal benefits and protections as heterosexual couples.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane ruled that Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriages violated the federal constitutional rights of gays and lesbians. McShane’s ruling caused a rush for same-sex weddings in the state.

Deanna Geiger and Janine Nelson, two of the plaintiffs in the case, were the first couple to marry in Multnomah County following the ruling.

Oregon became the seventh state where a federal judge has struck down a gay marriage ban since the U.S. Supreme Court last year invalidated key sections of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

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