Same-Sex Marriage Is Now Legal in All of Northeastern U.S.

A judge ruled on Tuesday that Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional.

Same-sex marriage supporters demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court on March 27, 2013 in Washington, DC. The rights of married same-sex couples will come under scrutiny at the US Supreme Court on Wednesday in the second of two landmark cases being considered by the top judicial panel. After the nine justices mulled arguments on a California law that outlawed gay marriage on Tuesday, they will take up a challenge to the legality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The 1996 law prevents couples who have tied the knot in nine states -- where same-sex marriage is legal -- from enjoying the same federal rights as heterosexual couples. 
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Brian Resnick
May 20, 2014, 11:37 a.m.

With a fed­er­al judge de­clar­ing a Pennsylvania ban on gay mar­riage un­con­sti­tu­tion­al on Tues­day af­ter­noon, every state in the North­east­ern corner of the coun­try — Maine, New Hamp­shire, Mas­sachu­setts, Con­necti­c­ut, Rhode Is­land, New York, New Jer­sey, Delaware, Mary­land, and now Pennsylvania — has leg­al­ized same-sex mar­riage.

Judge John Jones in­voked the 14th Amend­ment to in­val­id­ate a 1996 Pennsylvania law that defined mar­riage as between a man and a wo­man. Like many of the oth­er ju­di­cial de­cisions bring­ing down state mar­riage bans, this one framed the is­sue as a mat­ter of civil rights.

Jones wrote:

In fu­ture gen­er­a­tions the la­bel same-sex mar­riage will be aban­doned, to be re­placed simply by mar­riage. We are bet­ter people than what these laws rep­res­ent, and it is time to dis­card them in­to the ash heap of his­tory.

A judge in Ore­gon is­sued a sim­il­ar rul­ing just the day pri­or.

Pennsylvania State At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Kath­leen Kane, a Demo­crat, re­fused to de­fend the law when it came to the court, but Re­pub­lic­an Gov. Tom Corbett ap­poin­ted a de­fense. Now, Time re­ports Corbett is likely to ap­peal the rul­ing. Jones is known as a polit­ic­al mod­er­ate (who ac­cord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Post was re­com­men­ded by Rick San­tor­um), but in the past has sided against a man­date to have in­tel­li­gent design taught in Pennsylvania schools.

The 19 states (in ad­di­tion to the Dis­trict of Columbia) with same-sex mar­riage now ac­count for 44 per­cent of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion, ac­cord­ing to the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign.