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Regional groups react to marriage equality in Pennsylvania

05/27/2014 03:56PM, Published by ACL, Categories: In Print

By John Chambless

Staff Writer

On May 20, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III ruled that Pennsylvania’s law banning marriage equality is unconstitutional. On May 21, Gov. Tom Corbett announced the state would not appeal the ruling, officially making Pennsylvania the 19th state where gay and lesbian couples can legally marry.

In a press release, Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin wrote, “Governor Corbett did the right thing in not standing in the way of thousands of loving couples’ ability to make lifelong commitments to each other through marriage. Breaking down this dark wall of discrimination in the Keystone State strengthens our ever-growing momentum as we continue to expand the marriage equality map. Thanks to the hundreds of plaintiffs and attorneys across the country challenging these discriminatory marriage bans, its only a matter of time before a state border no longer dictates whether a loving couple can legally share in the joys of marriage.”

Same-sex couples can legally marry in 19 states and the District of Columbia, while 41 states have a law or constitutional amendment restricting marriage to the union of one man and one woman. According to a March 2014 Washington Post/ABC News poll, 59 percent of Americans support marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples. 

In the May 20 ruling, Judge 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.”

In a comment e-mailed to the Chester County Press, Liz Bradbury, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Diversity Network, based in Allentown, wrote, "The majority of people in Pennsylvania support marriage equality because they are fair-minded, and believe that families should be treated equally. ... The ACLU put together an excellent case and I don't see how the judge could respond in any other way."

Kathleen G. Kane, the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, issued a statement on May 20, saying, "This is an historic day. More i