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Same-sex marriage (SSM) In Pennsylvania

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State defense of marriage act bans SSMs.
Attempt to legalize SSM by legislature fails.
Court case underway. SSMs solemnized.

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Background up to 2013-JUL-31:

In 1996, Pennsylvania passed a state Defense of Marriage Act that limits marriage to a voluntary union of one woman and one man. Further, the law prevents the state from recognizing same-sex marriages (SSMs) solemnized in out-of-state.

As of 2013-AUG, in the U.S., the District of Columbia and thirteen states recognize same-sex marriages, but Pennsylvania is not one of them. A contiguous group of states to the North and East of Pennsylvania do recognize same-sex marriages. They are Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Also North of Pennsylvania lie the ten provinces and three territories of Canada, all of which achieved marriage equality in 2005-JUL. Pennsylvania remains the only northeastern state with neither same-sex marriages or civil unions.

Currently active are two simultaneous attempts to bring marriage equality to Pennsylvania: one is through the through the state legislature; the other is via the federal court system.

An unusual event happened in late 2013-JUL. Bruce Hanes, the Registrar of Wills in Montgomery County, announced that he would start issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. He personally interpreted the recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that overturned Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act as implying that Pennsylvania's marriage act is unconstitutional and that engaged same-sex couples should be treated as equal to engaged opposite-sex couples and allowed to marry. Based on his promise to uphold the U.S. Constitution when he took office, he decided to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Events similar to this have happened in several locations in the U.S. over the previous decade. All the same-sex couples who married were later forcibly divorced against their will.

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Topics included in this section:

  1. Legislative attempt to legalize SSMs fails. Federal court case launched

  2. State officials won't defend discriminatory laws in court. Polls show public support. 4 SSM licenses sold. One lesbian couple marries

  3. Lesbian couple marries (Cont'd). State seeks injunction. More licenses for SSMs issued

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Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance 
Originally written: 2013-JUL-10
Latest update: 2013-AUG-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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