This morning I received a press release from the ACLU of PA:
HARRISBURG, PA – Lawyers challenging Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples filed a motion today asking a federal judge to decide the case on the briefs alone rather than waiting for a previously scheduled June trial. The lawsuit, Whitewood v. Wolf, was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the American Civil Liberties Union, volunteer counsel from the law firm of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller, and University of Pennsylvania School of Law Professor Seth Kreimer on behalf of a widow, 11 couples who wish to marry in Pennsylvania or want the commonwealth to recognize their out-of-state marriages, and two teenage children of one of the plaintiff couples.
It is conceivable that a judge could rule before the end of May and Same-sex marriage could be legal in the State of Pennsylvania before the start of June. This move was made possible in part because both sides, the ACLU as well as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania both agreed to allow the judge to rule based only on the briefs files and without a trial. This is a tremendous step forward and may completely change the playing field. Given the number of recent cases in other states where judges have found bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, it seems possible that a similar ruling may be made here in Pennsylvania and as reported in The New Civil Rights Movement:
The state of Pennsylvania in Whitewood v. Wolf will not be presenting any “experts” in the case to argue against same-sex marriage, nor will they argue against the harms raised by the plaintiffs asking for the right to marry. Plaintiffs are arguing that there is, therefore, no need for a trial and want the judge to move his ruling up.
Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., the first openly LGBT elected member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly released the following statement:
I am very heartened to hear of the court’s decision to move forward quickly in the Whitewood v. Wolf case. The sentiments of millions of Pennsylvanians and indeed, Americans across the nation are rapidly shifting in favor of recognizing the freedom to marry of committed, hardworking LGBT couples. It is far past the time that our laws catch up to the belief of the majority of Pennsylvanians that all families ought to be recognized under the law.
Of course, it this may not be the end in Pennsylvania’s fight for Marriage Equality. The State could lose the case with a ruling in favor of Marriage Equality and then appeal the decision. This could provide PA Governor Tom Corbett a campaign issue for the Fall election- one he likely to lose if current polling is accurate. Corbett fails to capture enough of his own party’s vote let alone anyone else. An ability to claim he is fighting hard against Marriage Equality, alt least allows him to solidify the Far Right religious vote.
Or it could be the State recognizes Marriage Equality as a losing battle, and will not appeal the decision paving the way for Marriage Equality to be legal across the commonwealth. Truly, there are plenty of ways the money could be spent that will really help Pennsylvanians instead of wasting it to fight against the inevitable.
More about Whitewood, et al v Wolf is here by the ACLU.