Pennsylvania's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Has Been Ruled Unconstitutional, Finally

Another major victory for marriage equality: The state of Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage has been ruled unconstitutional, following up a similar ruling in Oregon Monday. The decision, by U.S. District Judge John Jones, struck down Pennsylvania's version of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal version of which was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. The impact of that Supreme Court decision has been laid bare by the string of state-level decisions that have followed — 14 straight cases relating to same-sex marriage have been decided in favor of equality.

The next step for Pennsylvania depends on the decision of Republican Governor Tom Corbett, who finds himself under about as much pressure as can be imagined. Beyond even the seeming judicial inevitability of same-sex marriage, not just in Pennsylvania but across the United States, Corbett is without the support of his state's own Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, who refused to defend the ban in court on her own assessment of its unconstitutionality.

As such, Corbett is absent support from his chief legal adviser and official, but if he wants to continue to press the issue, risking the political fallout that could come with doing so, he could appeal it himself. If he doesn't, Pennsylvania would become state number 19 to legalize same-sex marriage.

Of course, if he does decide to appeal, then the day when Pennsylvania's same-sex couples can finally tie the knot would likely still be a way down the road. There would be more hearings, and another ruling from an appellate judge — a ruling which would, recent history being any indication, likely go the same way as Jones' did Tuesday.

The most meaningful effect, in a realistic analysis of the situation, would only be to delay the whole process for a little while, likely prompting Jones to issue a stay on his ruling.

So the question is, does Corbett's opposition to same-sex marriage run so deep that he's willing to fight an effectively fruitless, politically unpopular battle legal battle in the midst of an election year? The answer's not yet known, as his decision is still awaited.

Regardless of his choice, this much now seems clear — marriage equality is coming to Pennsylvania sooner or later. In the immortal words of Gavin Newsom, "whether you like it or not."

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