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Judge Strikes Down PA Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

PHOTO: Pennsylvania's same-sex marriage ban did not survive its most recent court challenge. It was overturned by a federal judge on Tuesday. Photo credit: innovatedcaptures/iStockphoto.
PHOTO: Pennsylvania's same-sex marriage ban did not survive its most recent court challenge. It was overturned by a federal judge on Tuesday. Photo credit: innovatedcaptures/iStockphoto.
May 21, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Saying it discriminates against gay men and lesbians, a federal judge has struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a widow, 11 couples who wish to marry in Pennsylvania or want the Commonwealth to recognize their marriages from other states, and two teenaged children of one of the plaintiff couples.

Attorney Mark Aronchick said the judge made his ruling clear.

"This judge is saying in his opinion, 'This is a civil rights battle that is as worthy of fighting and as important to address as any civil rights battle we have had in the United States,' " he said.

Vic Walczak, legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said the issue here never should have centered around marriage between people of the same sex.

"What Pennsylvania has done is to exclude loving, committed couples from that institution of marriage," he said, "and that kind of discrimination has no place in society today."

Plaintiff Christine Donato said she and her partner have been together for 18 years and never expected, early on, to see this day come.

"It makes me really happy," she said, "to think that there are young, LGBT people today that meet the person that they love and they want to build a life with and grow old with, and they can get married and celebrate openly and proudly - and legally - in the state of Pennsylvania."

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia currently allow same-sex couples to marry.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA