Pennsylvania became the last Northeastern state to embrace same-sex nuptials on Tuesday, when a federal judge struck down an 18-year-old law defining marriage as an institution between one man and one woman. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, appointed by President George W. Bush, ruled that the Keystone State's ban violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.:
It only seems like every day another court strikes down a state ban on marriage equality. In reality, it's almost every day.
"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."
The ruling did not include a stay, suggesting same-sex couples can immediately take advantage of equal rights, though Gov. Tom Corbett (R), an often-strident opponent of marriage equality, will likely seek immediate relief from the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.
Also note, in the Pennsylvania case, state Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced last summer that she would not defend the Pennsylvania ban, agreeing with plaintiffs who argued it's unconstitutional.
If the ruling stands, it will fill in a missing piece of a geographic puzzle: Pennsylvania is the only remaining state in the Northeast that does not allow same-sex couples to get legally married.
As for the larger trend, today's ruling in the Keystone State comes just one day after a similar ruling in Oregon.
Which came just a week after a federal court struck down Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Which came just a week after a court ruled against Arkansas’ anti-gay constitutional amendment.
This came a month after a federal judge ordered Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. The month before that, a federal judge struck down Michigan’s ban on marriage equality.
Civil-rights proponents have scored related victories in Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Utah and Texas, just over the last half-year or so.
For the right, that’s quite a losing streak. Indeed, as we discussed yesterday, how many cases have anti-gay forces won on the merits since the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling? Zero.
Update: The ruling is worth reading; the judge appointed by George W. Bush didn't hold back. "We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history,” the decision concludes.