A federal judge on Tuesday struck down Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban, one day after a judge in Oregon did the same.
“We now join the twelve federal district courts across the country which, when confronted with these inequities in their own states, have concluded that all couples deserve equal dignity in the realm of civil marriage,” U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III writes in his decision.
Pennsylvania’s law, passed in 1996 by Republican Gov. Tom Ridge, defined marriage as "a civil contract by which one man and one woman take each other for husband and wife.” Jones reportedly found the ban violates both the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment after 11 gay and lesbian couples came together to challenge the court on their right to marry.
"We are better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them onto the ash heap of history," the judge said.
Here's how the ACLU, which filed the lawsuit, explains the case:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the American Civil Liberties Union, and volunteer counsel from the law firm of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller filed a federal lawsuit on July 9, 2013, on behalf of 21 Pennsylvanians who wish to marry in Pennsylvania or want the commonwealth to recognize their out-of-state marriages.
The lawsuit alleges that Pennsylvania's Defense of Marriage Act and refusal to marry lesbian and gay couples or recognize their out-of-state marriages violates the fundamental right to marry as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This lawsuit comes in the wake of the ACLU's victory before the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Windsor, which requires federal recognition for lesbian and gay couples who are married in their home states. Plaintiffs argue that the court should closely scrutinize this discriminatory treatment because the state's Defense of Marriage Act burdens the fundamental right to marry and because it discriminates based on sex and sexual orientation.
Shortly after the decision, which is embedded in full below, Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane expressed her support for Jones.
Here's the decision in its entirety: