It has been a monumental week for marriage equality. On Monday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the National Organization for Marriage’s last-ditch attempt to intervene in the marriage equality case in Oregon. Federal Judge Michael McShane then ruled that Oregon’s marriage ban was unconstitutional. On the same day, U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball ordered Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to recognize over 1,000 same-sex marriages that were performed during a 17-day period when a court ruling briefly overturned the state's ban on gay marriage. Adding to the weekly wins for same-sex couples, yesterday, Federal Judge John E. Jones struck down the marriage ban in Pennsylvania.
The icing on the wedding cake comes today as Gov. Tom Corbett announced the state would not appeal the ruling. This makes Pennsylvania the nineteenth state, plus the District of Columbia, where gay and lesbian couples can legally marry. Gov. Corbett released the following statement on his website:
“I have thoroughly reviewed Judge Jones’ opinion in the Whitewood case. Given the high legal threshold set forth by Judge Jones in this case, the case is extremely unlikely to succeed on appeal. Therefore, after review of the opinion and on the advice of my Commonwealth legal team, ...I have decided not to appeal Judge Jones’ decision.
“As a Roman Catholic, the traditional teaching of my faith has not wavered. I continue to maintain the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. My duties as Governor require that I follow the laws as interpreted by the Courts and make a judgment as to the likelihood of a successful appeal.
"Throughout the debate on this important and meaningful issue, I have maintained that Commonwealth officials and agencies would follow the provisions of Pennsylvania’s marriage law unless or until a court says otherwise. The court has spoken, and I will ensure that my administration follows the provisions of Judge Jones’ order with respect for all parties.
“It is my hope that as the important issue of same-sex relationships continues to be addressed in our society, that all involved be treated with respect.”
Currently, there are 44 cases challenging discriminatory marriage bans pending in federal courts. Since the U.S. Supreme court ruled in the historic Defense of Marriage Act and Prop 8 cases last summer, not a single state marriage ban has survived a court challenge.
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