United States District Court Judge John Jones III quashed Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriages on May 20th. According to Jones, the state’s ban violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. He wrote that his court “now joins the twelve federal district courts across America which, when confronted with these inequities in their own states, have concluded that all couples deserve equal dignity in the realm of civil marriage.”
No stay followed the ruling and Philadelphia’s Register of Wills Ron Donatucci started issuing marriage licenses immediately. However, Governor Tom Corbett’s office has 30 days to appeal the court’s decision.
Here is an excerpt from Jones’ ruling:
“The issue we resolve today is a divisive one. Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of ‘separate but equal...’ In the sixty years since Brown was decided, separate has thankfully faded into history, and only equal remains. Similarly, in future generations, the label "same sex marriage" will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by "marriage."
Tuesday’s decision came after both Corbett’s administration and same-sex couples challenged the state’s ban asking for a summary judgment, in order to avoid going to trial. The organization that helped bring the suit against the ban organized rallies across Pennsylvania at the end of day to celebrate a favourable ruling for the freedom to marry.
Jones was appointed by George W. Bush and he has handled a number of high-profile cases earlier, including the quashing of teaching intelligent design in public schools in the state.