Pennsylvania's is the 10th such state ban ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in the past year.
“We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history,” Jones wrote in his decision.
Since 1996, Pennsylvania has had a statute on the books defining marriage as being between "one man and one woman." The state also banned the recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.
In July 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of 21 Pennsylvanians seeking either the right to marry their same-sex partner, or for their same-sex marriage to be recognized by the commonwealth. The lawsuit, Whitewood v. Wolf, set off great debate that month when state Attorney General Kathleen Kane said she would not defend the state's same-sex marriage ban.
“Today a federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush became the latest to uphold the most sacred ideals of this nation and our Constitution – that justice and equality matter above all else," Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement. "It seems that every passing day brings LGBT Americans a new victory in our unwavering march toward justice. And thanks to our friends at the ACLU of PA and ACLU National, the attorneys of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller, and the proud plaintiffs who brought this case, the inescapable reality of full equality under the law is now one step closer.”
Not all were pleased by the ruling, however.
“Today, an activist judiciary has substituted its judgment in place of the law created by the elected representatives of Pennsylvania and has stifled the ongoing debate of people with differing points of view,” Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason said.
Gleason emphasized that the Republican Party believes that marriage is "between a man and a woman," then went on to say: “We believe all Pennsylvanians deserve dignity and respect regardless of their beliefs on this issue. However, the citizens of the commonwealth also deserved to be participants in the ongoing discussion rather than be dictated to by judicial fiat.”
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