State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Requests to forgo trial in gay marriage challenge could speed up ruling

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Apr 21, 2014 2:04 PM

When it comes to Pennsylvania's gay marriage ban, lawyers on both sides of the issue agree on one thing: the case shouldn't go to trial.

Instead, both legal teams seeking either to topple and to defend the same-sex marriage case in federal court are asking a judge to make his ruling based on written legal arguments.

John Stapleton, one of the lawyers challenging state law, said during discovery, it became clear that the commonwealth is not quibbling with factual claims made by challengers' experts and plaintiffs - rather, the disagreements are over legal matters.

Now, the central legal question is whether the commonwealth can differentiate between same-sex couples and other couples. "That was really obviating the need to spend a week or two at trial, said Stapleton, a trial attorney with firm Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller.

A trial had been set for early June. Stapleton said with the commonwealth's lawyers also filing a request to forgo a trial, the judge could hand down a ruling any time after mid-May, when all related legal papers must be filed.

A widow, 11 couples, and two children of one of the couples are hoping to overturn Pennsylvania's 1996 law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

"Hopefully today really is accelerating the process of bringing marriage equality to Pennsylvania," said Stapleton.

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