State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

ACLU files suit over PA's gay marriage ban

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jul 9, 2013 11:54 AM
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Photo by Mary Wilson / witf


The American Civil Liberties Union is filing a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania to make the state recognize gay couples. The suit comes two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on gay marriage but left state prohibitions intact. Lawyers say this is the first federal case since to be filed challenging a state's gay marriage law. 

The suit asks a federal judge to strike down the state's 1996 prohibition on gay marriage as a violation of the U.S. Constitution. It names 23 plaintiffs - gay and lesbian couples, one widow, and two teenage daughters of a couple.

One plaintiff, Deb Whitewood, of Allegheny County, said her community accepts her commitment to her partner, Susan, and their three children.

"Our friends, our family, our church family, the kids and the teachers at my kids' school - they all recognize us as a true family and we feel that it's time the commonwealth of Pennsylvania did so as well," Whitewood said.

The suit names Gov. Corbett among its defendants. His chief counsel is still reviewing the lawsuit.

Mark Aronchick, a lawyer with the firm assisting the ACLU on the case, noted Pennsylvania polls that show a majority of residences would support legal recognition of gay marriage.

"We welcome the opportunity to show the nation that the freedom to marry for same sex couples is nothing to fear and everything to celebrate," Aronchick said.


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