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Marriage equality Pennsylvania: Judge strikes down state's gay marriage ban

The fight for marriage equality has reached a winning streak of 14 after a federal judge struck down Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage on Tuesday. The decision legalizes same-sex marriage through the Northeast, as a stay is not expected on the ruling.

 Brian Sims attends the 19th Annual Out100 Awards presented by Buick at Terminal 5 on November 14, 2013 in New York City.
(Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for OUT100 presented by Buick)

U.S. District Court Judge John Jones III found Pennsylvania’s 1996 Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, proclaiming that the plaintiffs in the case, a widow and 11 couples, were courageous in their efforts in challenging the ban. Jones wrote in his decision, “By virtue of this ruling, same-sex couples who seek to marry in Pennsylvania may do so, and already married same-sex couples will be recognized as such in the Commonwealth.”

As gay couples throughout Pennsylvania celebrate their home state becoming the 19th U.S. state where gay marriage is allowed, there will be a three-day waiting period for all weddings in the state. Republican Gov. Tom Corbett will still have an opportunity to appeal the ruling, but that will not stop marriages from taking please immediately as Jones also declined a potential hold by the governor’s office, which defended the ban in court since Attorney General Kathleen Kane refused to defend the ban. The state will have 30 days to appeal.

The lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Law was filed last July and today’s victory continues the trend of same-sex marriage bans that have been overturned throughout the nation. The ruling comes a day after a federal judge in the state of Oregon ruled a state marriage as unconstitutional, paving the way for couples in the state to begin marrying immediately.

There is a victorious feeling in the air for gay marriage supporters in the state of Pennsylvania; a feeling that State Rep. Brian Sims, the first openly gay person elected to Pennsylvania’s General Assembly, says is one of affirmation. He praised the federal court ruling saying, “I join millions of Pennsylvanians today in supporting the federal court’s decision. Today, a federal court in Pennsylvania has affirmed what a majority of Pennsylvanians already support: the fundamental right to marry the person they love.”

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