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Court rejects Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriages

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images News

A federal court on Tuesday decisively struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriages, allowing same-sex couples to begin marrying immediately.

The ruling, from US District Judge John Jones, makes Pennsylvania the second state this week and one of many since the Supreme Court's 2013 ruling on same-sex marriage to have its ban overturned in court. And with Gov. Tom Corbett deciding not to appeal the case, it's likely the ruling will stand for the foreseeable future.

Jones, like judges in previous same-sex marriage cases, cited the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution and deemed Pennsylvania's statutory ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional. Unlike many other states, the state constitution in Pennsylvania doesn't have a provision barring same-sex marriages.

"We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history," Jones wrote.

Just yesterday, a federal judge struck down Oregon's same-sex marriage ban. But since the court didn't hold its ruling, same-sex couples were able to get married immediately. It's still unclear if the ruling will even be appealed, much less held: Oregon officials told BuzzFeed they will not appeal, but the National Organization for Marriage is trying to appeal on behalf of its Oregon members.

That judges in both Oregon and Pennsylvania have opted to let their rulings take effect immediately speaks to the confidence in their decisions. But higher courts have generally been wearier of letting rulings stand as they work through appeals.


Update: This story was updated to reflect Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's decision to not appeal and as other new developments came in.