Civil Liberties

Get Gay-Married in Pennsylvania, If You Must


Now you know who wears the dress. Stop asking.
Credit: masterdesigner / photo on flickr

Today a federal judge struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage recognition (passed via a statute, not a constitutional amendment). Presuming the ban stands, Pennsylvania will become the 19th state to legalize same-sex marriage recognition. Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed posted the text of the ruling and noted that the judge did not provide a stay. So just like Oregon yesterday, the judge's decision goes into effect immediately. The state does, however, have a three-day waiting period for marriage licenses. Gov. Tom Corbett is going to defend the state's ban, but he will do this without the assistance of the state's attorney general, who believes it to be unconstitutional.

In his ruling, Judge John E. Jones III separated his analysis of the ways same-sex couples are treated differently from their heterosexual counterparts into subheads matching lines from traditional wedding vows—the "in sickness and in health" section, for example, talks about how same-sex partners get denied information or participation in dealing with loved ones' medical emergencies. Jones must have really wanted his ruling to stand out from all the other decisions striking down marriage bans across the country. He concludes, "We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history."

Jones was a George W. Bush appointee. At Slate, David Weigel observes that a noted hater of gay marriage, Rick Santorum, encouraged the Senate to confirm Jones for U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. That's got to sting.

In other news from the rainbow side of things, scroll down a few inches for a ReasonTV video today by Amanda Winkler about the debate over gay issues within the Methodist church and how organizations with private and voluntary memberships deal with pressure for change.