Yesterday, Oregon. Today it’s Pennsylvania’s turn. U.S. District Court Judge John Jones III ruled that the state statute banning marriage equality is unconstitutional, extending the legal winning streak and dealing yet another blow to marriage opponents.
“We now join the 12 federal district courts across the country which, when confronted with these inequities in their own states, have concluded that all couples deserve equal dignity in the realm of civil marriage,” Jones wrote.
Jones’s ruling is particularly noteworthy because he is a well-connected Republican. He previously served as co-chair of then-Gov. Tom Ridge’s transition team. Yet his decision explicitly rejects the usual defenses for marriage bans.
“The issue we resolve today is a divisive one,” Jones wrote. “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.”
There is a three-day waiting period for weddings after marriage licenses are issued, but clerks are expected to waive that requirement, so marriages may begin shortly. Pennsylvania is the last state in the northeast that had a standing ban on marriage equality.