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U.S. District Judge John Jones issued a ruling today that Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional!

(Reuters) – A federal judge on Tuesday struck down Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage, the latest in a series of court decisions across the country confirming gay couples’ rights to wed.

Finding Pennsylvania’s 1996 Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, District Court Judge John Jones III wrote: “By virtue of this ruling, same-sex couples who seek to marry in Pennsylvania may do so, and already married same-sex couples will be recognized as such in the Commonwealth.”

The ruling makes Pennsylvania the 19th U.S. state where gay marriage is allowed, a movement that has gained momentum since the Supreme Court ruled last June that legally married same-sex couples are eligible for federal benefits.

I am so happy. This has been a long time coming for some of us.  On September 2nd, 2001, Brian and I, along with some of our friends made the trek north to Warren, VT so Brian and I could be joined in a Civil Union in the only place in the Eastern USA where that was possible.  In the 13 years since then we have watched couples like ourselves achieve legal recognition of their relationships as, state by state, we watched the world change and become more equal and more compassionate.

As a teenager in the 1980s, if you had asked me if gay couples would be able to legally marry in the USA, I would have laughed and dismissed the idea as ridiculous.  This was a time when we often “straightened up” the house based on who was coming to visit.  Certain more conservative relatives or colleagues coming over meant a quick sweep of all rooms to stash away copies of The Advocate or Freshmen.  Decisions over sculpture and wall art often involved consideration of whether or not people we loved would be upset on seeing it.

That was a key part of my life  at the time.  My partner Chuck and I had people we loved deeply and cared about in every way, despite knowing they did not understand or accept our relationship.  We worked hard to keep those kinships and friendships smooth by following the the ‘don’t flaunt it’ mantra we heard by people who considered themselves accepting and ‘tolerant’.

As marriage equality has come to the states surrounding Pennsylvania people have asked Brian and I when we were going to ‘upgrade’ our Civil Union to a full legal marriage and our answer was always the same… not yet.  We had to travel for hours and cross four states to get to a place where we could ask a civil servant to issue us a license back in 2001.  We were not doing that again.  We would wait, maybe not patiently, but we would wait until we did not have to live the state where we pay taxes and have settled into our shared home.

That day has finally come so we will make our decade and a half relationship ‘legal’ soon.