According to a report by Bloomberg News, Pennsylvania has become the 25th state to have gay marriage declared legal by voters. Pennsylvania joins 18 of these 25 states where same-sex marriage is currently legal. In the six other states, according to Bloomberg News, court rulings that such bans are unconstitutional have been stayed while appeals are pursued. In addition to Pennsylvania, same-sex weddings may be performed in California, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Hawaii.
U.S. District Judge John E. Jones in Harrisburg said in his court ruling that, “We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.” The U.S. federal district court judge ruled that the states’ 1996 statutory ban on recognizing same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
A spokesman for Pennsylvania’s Office of General Counsel, Josh Maus, wrote in an e-mail that the office is “reviewing all of the legal issues.” A spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, Charlie Joughin, said according to Bloomberg News that, the ruling means same-sex marriage is available to 44 percent of the U.S. population. The state has never recognized civil unions or domestic partnerships and was the last state in the Northeast region where same-sex couples could not legally marry.
Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation with the gay-rights advocacy group Lambda Legal reported in a phone interview that, “We are seeing a steady drumbeat of rulings from federal as well as state courts saying that same-sex couples have the right to marry and to have their marriages respected wherever they live.”
Gay marriage bans have been thrown out, but the laws remain in place pending appeal in Arkansas, Idaho, Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia and Michigan. Pennsylvania’s Republican Governor Tom Corbett announced on Wednesday May 21, 2014 that he and his legal team would not seek to appeal Judge Jones’ decision, rendering same-sex marriage permanently legal and making Pennsylvania the 25th state to legalize same-sex marriage.
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