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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 25 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 17
No need for trial in Pennsylvania marriage case both sides agree
Section One
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No need for trial in Pennsylvania marriage case both sides agree

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Attorneys challenging Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage filed a motion April 21 asking Federal District Judge John E. Jones III to issue a summary judgment in the case on the basis of the briefs already filed rather than wait for a scheduled June trial.

Along with that motion, plaintiffs' filing included written testimony from six experts, including a report on the legal disadvantages that same-sex couples face in estate planning, taxes, health care, and family law in Pennsylvania, because they cannot marry or have their marriages from other states respected by Pennsylvania.

The motion also includes another expert report about the economic harms to the state's economy and businesses caused by the commonwealth's failure to allow same-sex couples to marry or to recognize their marriages from other states.

'In our filing, the court will have before it an overwhelming amount of evidence demonstrating that the freedom to marry in Pennsylvania is nothing to fear and everything to celebrate, and that there is no reason in law, logic, facts, and basic justice, to hesitate any longer in recognizing the plaintiffs' fundamental rights,' said Mark Aronchick, of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin and Schiller, co-counsel with the ACLU for the plaintiffs.

Lawyers for the state said previously that they will not call any experts to argue that Pennsylvania's marriage law has a rational basis, nor will they dispute the specific harms caused to the plaintiffs by the marriage ban.

Consequently, plaintiffs' attorneys said, there should not be a need to wait for trial. All legal papers in the case will be filed by May 12, meaning a ruling could come at any time after that date.

The ACLU and Hangley Aronchik represent 11 couples who either want to marry in Pennsylvania, or want the state to recognize marriages performed in other jurisdictions, a widow who wants to be recognized as the survivor of her late wife, and two teenaged children who want their parents' marriage recognized. The suit was originally filed on July 29 last year.

'We are pleased that this case will be moving forward quickly. Our clients have waited long enough for the state to recognize the love and commitment that these couples have for each other,' said John S. Stapleton of Hangley Aronchick.

'These plaintiffs are as devoted to each other as any other married couples and their families deserve the protections that come with marriage,' said Witold Walczak, the ACLU of Pennsylvania's legal director. 'Today we have provided the court with moving personal stories from all of our plaintiff families describing how this ban hurts them and their loved ones. We hope the judge will see the profound harm caused by this law and strike it down.'

'It's difficult to explain to our five-year-old son why his parents are not married. I hope that we will be able to marry in Pennsylvania before our younger child is old enough to ask the same questions,' said Diana Polson, one of the plaintiffs.

'Every single time we cross the Delaware River to come home, my heart drops a little as I remember that here, in our home, we are not married,' said Plaintiff David Palmer. Palmer and Ed Hill got married in Maine after 25 years together but are not recognized as married in Pennsylvania.

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