On Tuesday, May 20, 2014, the state of Pennsylvania joined a rapidly growing number of states that have ruled same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge John E. Jones struck down the state ban, and issued an order on Tuesday prohibiting authorities in the state from preventing same-sex couples obtain marriage licenses. Same-sex couples can apply for licenses right away and should face no complications in doing so.
While Judge Jones’ stance on the ban is made clear by his ruling, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has yet to make a statement regarding the decision. Attorney General Kathleen Kane, however, has stated her support of the bill, saying that, “Today brings justice to Pennsylvanians who have from unequal protection under the law because of their sexual orientation,” Kane said.
To quote Judge Jones’ order directly, “Pennsylvania’s Marriage Laws… which prohibit same-sex marriage and treat as void the marriages of same-sex couples validly entered into in other jurisdictions violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and are therefore Unconstitutional.
Although same-sex marriage was prohibited in all states and jurisdictions in the United States ten years ago, it is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. In light of the landmark “Windsor” decision last June and the changing tide of states ruling same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional, Judge Jones’ statements certainly speak to the perceived change in public opinion on the matter. “In future generations, the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage,” Jones wrote. “We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”