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Pennsylvania

Twenty-one same-sex couples file suit to overturn Pa. ban on gay marriage

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Twenty-one same-sex couples filed suit Wednesday seeking to overturn the state’s gay-marriage ban on the grounds that it’s unconstitutional.

The state Commonwealth Court lawsuit parallels a separate challenge to the law filed two months ago in federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.

PennsylvaniaAll of the plaintiff couples in the state action were married with licenses from a Montgomery County court clerk who began issuing them after Democratic state Attorney General Kathleen Kane concluded the law was unconstitutional and refused to defend it in federal court.

Both of the challenges argue that the law, which defines marriage as the union of “one man and one woman,” violates the U.S. Constitution, but Wednesday’s filing claims that it also violates the state constitution.

In another case, a Commonwealth Court judge earlier this month ordered the clerk, D. Bruce Hanes, to stop issuing the licenses because he has no power to decide whether or not the law is constitutional. The county vowed to appeal the ruling.

The state lawsuit also asks the court to affirm the legality of the plaintiffs’ marriages.

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“To lift the cloud over their unions, plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment that their marriages are valid under Pennsylvania law,” the lawsuit says.

The challenges followed a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June that struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which restricts marriage as being between a man and a woman.

The state lawsuit named Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, Kane and state Health Secretary Michael Wolf as defendants. Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for the governor’s Office of General Counsel, said it had not received a copy of the suit and declined to comment.

The general counsel’s office has hired West Chester lawyer William Lamb, a former state Supreme Court justice, to serve as lead counsel in the federal case.

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Filed under: Pennsylvania

51 more reader comments:

  1. To me Pennsylvania is an embarrassment to the north east.

    Posted on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 11:05pm
  2. Especially wen you are gay and born there... Live in upstate NY for good reasons...

    Replied on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 9:12am
  3. don't I know it, I am so moving to Pittsburgh, it is not perfect but it beats central Pennsylvania.

    Replied on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 3:42pm
  4. Cities are always better for gay people, specially in a bigoted state.

    Replied on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 4:30pm
  5. This is a reason why I hate living in Pennsylvania.

    Posted on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 11:13pm
  6. but don't leave, we need to stay and fight with our vote

    Replied on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 11:24pm
  7. But I can't vote yet. I'm not old enough.

    Replied on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 11:28pm
  8. And why I live in NY...

    Replied on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 9:16am
  9. Jordan Anderson

    Posted on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 11:18pm
  10. GO FOR IT GUYS!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 11:57pm
  11. My great times 7 uncle is the founder of Pennsylvania and I’m bisexual ….. I almost wanna go here and b like “gay rights”

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 12:00am
  12. I know, I never got why they set Queer As Folk in Pittsburgh? I visited in 2008 and was very disappointing. QAF LIED!

    Replied on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 5:01am
  13. Share this to end LGBT discrimination, within our courts. Due to biases that have surfaced within the nez perce county court room The ALLY ROBLEDO trial was postponed, until thursday Oct. 17th recommended By the plaintiffs prosecutor which has an attempt to block, LGBT support in the courtroom. Please share this post to support Ally Robledo, and the LGBT community as she faces biases in rural Idaho.

    Replied on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 5:23am
  14. @ James McCall Evans III, they may have used the name Pittsburgh (and I'm not sure why) on the show, but it was ACTUALLY shot in Toronto! Not sure if ya knew that. DEF, go visit Toronto. It is my FAV North American city!!

    Replied on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 6:35pm
  15. Zach :D

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 12:11am
  16. We really should catch up to the rest of the north east

    Replied on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 12:12am
  17. Like New York 0 minutes North? lol...Just saying I cross the border between gay hating and gay loving like more than 10 times a week at least....

    Replied on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 9:15am
  18. It’s going to happen, just like the rest of the states. Time and perseverance like always.

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 12:18am
  19. My ancestor was a signer of Penn’s Great Charter. I’m straight, but champion freedom and equality for all!

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 12:21am
  20. good for PA, keep marriage traditional, the way it should be, man & woman ONLY

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 1:07am
  21. It must be hell inside your head!

    Replied on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 5:34am
  22. and maybe keep the women barefoot and pregnant like in the good old days, right?

    Replied on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 7:27am
  23. Traditional marriage isn't. http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_kvMnLyxffXk/SVCzgDJfL9I/AAAAAAAACQA/bQEHy6LPsFA/s400/Traditional+Marriage.jpg

    Replied on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 8:24am
  24. Traditional marriage was between a man and a man...bartering for a woman. Grow up.

    Replied on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 4:58pm
  25. Hahaha one man and one woman. That’s about as traditional as a “classic” burger at a fast food restaurant. Marriage came in so many forms for centuries. There is no “traditional” marriage. Churches didn’t even do marriages when the king or queen or landowners oversaw it! Hahah.

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 1:45am
  26. Boo haters!

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 2:47am
  27. Proud of those in my home state!

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 3:15am
  28. PENNSYLVANIA IS A COMMONWEALTH AND BY LAW IS REQUIRED TO TAKE CARE OF IT’S CONSTITUENTS. INCLUDING GAY CONSTITUENTS, NOT MENTION THE BAN ON GAY MARRIAGE IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL! OVERTURN…..OVERTURN…..OVERTURN!

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 3:20am
  29. Good… soon it will hit higher and higher courts… until….!

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 4:58am
  30. I hope it works!

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 5:20am
  31. Share this to end LGBT discrimination, within our courts. Due to biases that have surfaced within the nez perce county court room The ALLY ROBLEDO trial was postponed, until thursday Oct. 17th recommended By the plaintiffs prosecutor which has an attempt to block, LGBT support in the courtroom. Please share this post to support Ally Robledo, and the LGBT community as she faces biases in rural Idaho.

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 5:23am
  32. My lesbian cousin from Lancaster cursed me out for being an atheist. I have other family that still live there as well. They are not family to me because they refuse with force to embrace the real me. I am trying to build up the courage to tell my grandmother why I don’t talk to her and why i will not be attending the up coming family get together. She seems to think that it is okay to just pretend that nothing happened. She changed the topic when I came out. I hate Pennsylvania.

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 5:55am
  33. I live in Philadelphia, PA, and I hope to see an end to this. Marriage equality for all. We are the city of brotherly love after all, it’s time we show it.

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 6:21am
  34. how we know that this is true well was a gential mnake up might decide thius or how you have babies

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 6:47am
  35. Marriage isnt about babies. People marry without children all the time. Adoption, kids, from a previous relationship, foster care, and lastly surrogacy, are all ways gay couples end up with babies. Marriage is not about babies, it is about the two people getting married just like a wedding is not about the flower girls, but about the partners....

    Replied on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 9:23am
  36. So a menopausal women shouldn't get married? She can't have babies. What about a couple suffering infertility? I guess, in your mind, they have no rights either. Or what about the fact that some couples chose NOT to have kids. Sucks to be them, huh? Your logic....it's faulty.

    Replied on Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 5:54pm
  37. Good!

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 9:11am
  38. you cant have babies with out help it takes a male and a female unless you the virgin mary…..and you gay you wouldnt know that cuz you would be atheist

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 9:26am
  39. Uh...homosexuality and atheism are mutually exclusive.

    Replied on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 4:57pm
  40. You can't be homosexual or gay and believe in God ...its says abomination in bible

    Replied on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 5:48pm
  41. I agree Fred, embarrassing, We need to keep fighting to force change!

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 2:10pm
  42. WELCOME TO AMERICA, but not Pennsylvania…

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 2:16pm
  43. Wayne, what you said makes no sense at all. Good luck in PA from CA!

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 3:53pm
  44. Ironically enough, most of the modern Quakers are very chill and for LGBT rights. So the founding group agrees, it’s just that some others don’t.

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 4:34pm
  45. GET YOUR MIND RIGHT GAY HATERS ONLY THE DEVIL HATES UGH SCARY

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 5:08pm
  46. Sad …. but im sure it will change soon ….

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 5:25pm
  47. Wayne owen the only abomination is the thought that you think you are right

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 6:58pm
  48. My dad’s family lives in PA now and they are basically all against gay marriage. I’m bisexual and my grandmother doesn’t love that very much. I know we can get mad sometimes gram but I love you! :D

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 7:34pm
  49. And William Penn was a Quaker which means his own belief system approves of LGBT rights.

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 7:36pm
  50. Wayne Owen. Gay woman have access to donor sperm and a dr. Lol, kids can be created without a traditional marriage.

    Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 8:34pm