Here’s a question most of us haven’t pondered before: What’s a dad to do if he’s out and about with his baby who needs a new diaper and there’s no changing table in the men’s restroom? As the dynamics of the “modern family” (and no, I don’t mean families with iPhones!) evolve, lawmakers are considering two bills with similar intentions mandating businesses to grant men equal access to changing tables. Read more »
Last week marked the one year anniversary since the Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriages were made from the Edie Windsor case.
In just on year so much has already happened and yet, there is much more to come!
Take a listen to my discussion on America Weekend for an update of the same-sex marriage rulings as they are now and what is predicted to happen next…
On Wednesday, June 25th I will be joining Andres Reyes, Mixto Philly’s bartender extraordinaire, as I flash back to my college days to guest bartend for a great cause! We’ll be slinging “Double A Mojitos” from 5-7pm!
A “Double A Mojito” is an awesomely random concoction I developed one night when Andres was patient enough to let me experiment behind the bar! Come taste a mojito like you’ve never experienced!
Mixto is kind enough to donate 5% of the proceeds raised to the GALLOP- Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia – an organization near and dear to my heart for years and of which I sit on the Board of Directors. So, please join Andres and I as we mix, muddle, and make drinks for the happiest happy hour you’ve ever had! We better see you there!
Look for the event here!:
The fight for marriage equality has entered into a new phase garnering a different perspective with respect to legal strategy. Pennsylvania joined the ranks (becoming the 19th state) on May 20 when U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III of the Middle District of Pennsylvania declared that Pennsylvania’s version of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in Whitewood v. Wolf, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68937 (May 20, 2014). The elation was palpable in Philadelphia, as hundreds of LGBT individuals and their allies gathered on the steps of City Hall to celebrate no longer being second-class citizens in Pennsylvania, alongside the American Civil Liberties Union, the Whitewood legal team of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller and several of the plaintiffs.
Of the same-sex marriage rulings that occurred in other states so far this year—Utah, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Michigan, Oregon, Arkansas and Idaho—seven (except for Oregon) had their rulings stayed pending appeal, and thus those cases have been kicked up to their respective circuit courts. Unlike most other marriage equality cases, Pennsylvania’s decision was not appealed.
We have entered a new era. Every single state with a ban against same-sex marriage has a lawsuit in place — now that the nation’s last unchallenged state, North Dakota, has lost that status. A lawsuit was filed last week to challenge that state’s bans, along with ones in Montana and South Dakota. While we in Pennsylvania are celebrating our hard-earned victory for marriage equality, the battle is just beginning in these and other states. But, these state-by-state battles are securing that an inevitable Supreme Court ruling will be in our favor.
The same-sex marriage movement has enjoyed a streak of more than a dozen victories in federal courts since Windsor v. United States. In six states we’ve had clean wins: New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon and Pennsylvania. Federal judges have invalidated bans in six other states — Utah, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Michigan and Idaho — but those decisions have been stayed pending appeals. Lastly, in Arkansas, a state judge struck down that state’s ban; the ruling has been stayed and is under appeal. Regardless of the process, since Windsor, no state ban against same-sex marriage has survived a court challenge and the last two cases, in Oregon and Pennsylvania, were delivered with governing officials in both states saying they would not appeal. Same-sex couples are now allowed to legally marry in 19 states, and more than two in five Americans live in such states.
Today on WHYY’s Radio Times, Marty Moss-Coane hosted myself, one of my best friends and colleague, PA Rep Brian Sims, and someone I’ve known for way too long for just meeting in person, Law professor and author, John Culhane, discussing Judge Jones’ ruling legalizing same-same marriage in the Commonwealth. We chatted about Pennsylvania legalizing same-sex marriage (at least we’re before Alabama!) and it’s impact moving forward.
Love, love, love Marty Moss-Coane and I was thoroughly impressed by my left-handed comrades!
Listen here for the broadcast!
Independence Day has come early in Pennsylvania! LGBTQ individuals are no longer second-class citizens in Pennsylvania and will be legally recognized as wholly legitimate and equal citizens; same-sex marriage is legal in the commonwealth!
Judge John E. Jones III declared yesterday that Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in Whitewood v. Wolf. His order directs the state to allow same-sex couples to marry and to recognize valid out-of-state marriages. The losing side in Whitewood v. Wolf now has 30 days to decide whether to appeal to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
Pennsylvania was the only state in the Northeast that didn’t allow marriage equality. It is entirely possible that this could be a deciding factor in it not being appealed. Gov. Corbett, who likened gay marriage to incest back in October 2013, could appeal, but since the commonwealth defendants agreed to summary judgment in the case rather than going to trial, one would hope this wouldn’t be the case.
What we know to be true is that EVERY ruling since Utah has been stayed pending appeals … until Oregon this week. Oregon, which received a similar ruling less, had its order appealed, yet the appeal was instantaneously shot down by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and marriage licenses were issued immediately to same-sex couples.
Jones could therefore put his ruling on hold during the appeal. Absent such a stay, same-sex couples could race out to seek marriage licenses yesterday afternoon, and the Philadelphia Register of Wills office opened today a 8 a.m. and was planning on staying open until 7 p.m. to accommodate just such a rush. State law requires a 72 hours waiting period before couples marry, although that rule can be waived by a judge.
Windsor v. United States has created a domino effect around the nation and there is no turning back as judge after judge decides to stand on the right side of history. These rulings are leading up to an inevitable return to the U.S. Supreme Court where they will hopefully echo their ruling in Windsor and declare marriage equality throughout the country. That day will come.
In the meantime, I had the pleasure of speaking personally with Edie Windsor of the aforementioned Windsor v. United States during her recent trip to Philadelphia who said that she WILL be returning back to her hometown to celebrate with us all! Whether the decision is appealed or not: decision day in Pennsylvania’s fight for marriage equality has arrived!
Now that Corbett has declared that he will not be appealing the Whitewood v. Wolf ruling and same-sex marriage now and forevermore will exist in Pennsylvania, we know that there are a number of unanswered questions. Read or download our handy FAQ to get some of the answers:
So many of you have reached out with important questions and I will be posting an FAQ shortly about all the uncertainties swirling around such as, what happens if Corbett appeals; how and where to get married; if you’re married or planning on getting married, what does this mean for your estate plan, taxes and property? And lastly, how and where do you get divorced if you’ve been wed”locked”?
Immediately following U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III of the Middle District of Pennsylvania’s ruling overturning the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, many Pennsylvania attorneys were exuberant about the decision, but several also wondered with some trepidation what comes next.
Angela D. Giampolo, a Philadelphia attorney who chairs the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia (GALLOP) organization, said Tuesday afternoon she hoped the Corbett administration would make a quick announcement regarding whether it intended to appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit so as to avoid a “Utah situation.”
A federal judge overturned Utah’s same-sex marriage ban in December and more than 1,000 gay couples married over the following two weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court issued an emergency stay in early January.
Utah officials argued that they had to wait until the case was resolved on appeal before they could grant those couples benefits but, this past Monday, a federal judge ordered them to recognize the marriages.
Giampolo said she was advising her clients Tuesday afternoon that Jones’ ruling in Whitewood v. Wolf was not necessarily the end of the line for Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban.
“What I’m telling my clients as they’re calling me right now is, ‘We just don’t know yet. We’re not out of the woods yet,’” Giampolo said.
Giampolo said there is no current challenge to Pennsylvania’s marriage law pending in the Third Circuit so there’s a real possibility the Corbett administration will choose to appeal in Whitewood.
“If I’m objective about it, it would actually make total sense to appeal,” Giampolo said.
Julia Swain, a partner in Fox Rothschild’s family law practice, said she also expects the state will appeal the decision but noted that Jones’ opinion and order in Whitewood was clear that same-sex couples can immediately marry in Pennsylvania and that Pennsylvania must immediately recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who wed out-of-state.
Swain said she would advise clients that they may go ahead and get married but with the understanding that the final word on the state’s marriage ban may not come for at least another year.
Daniel J. Clifford, a family law attorney with Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires & Newby who recently helped get a marriage equality resolution approved by the Pennsylvania Bar Association, said he anticipates that, if the state does plan to appeal, it will likely move to stay Jones’ ruling before the mandatory three-day waiting period for all Pennsylvania marriages expires.
At that point, Clifford said, it will be up to Jones to decide whether to grant the stay pending appeal.
Clifford said he looks at the fight for marriage equality as a “brick-by-brick process” that began with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor last year.
“Roughly 11 months later you’re seeing the second brick,” Clifford said. “Will we get the third brick with the circuit courts?”
While the future of the Pennsylvania gay marriage ban remains unclear, the uncertainty didn’t stop many in the legal community from celebrating Jones’ ruling as a victory for equal rights.
“Champagne corks will definitely be popping in Pennsylvania tonight,” Flaster Greenberg attorney Abbe Fletman said.
Fletman, who also serves on the advisory board of the LGBT health and wellness organization, the Mazzoni Center, said she was delighted to finally have her marriage recognized in Pennsylvania.
“Before two o’clock [Tuesday] I was married in the state of Delaware, but not the commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Fletman said. “There is a bundle of rights now available to same-sex couples.”
“If, God forbid, I died tomorrow,” Fletman continued, “my wife would no longer be fighting over whether she had to pay taxes on my half of the house.”
Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor William P. Fedullo said his organization was “thrilled that Jones has brought Philadelphia and Pennsylvania into the 21st century.”
“It’s the exact right ruling. It’s overdue. We’re finally joining our brother and sister states of Delaware, New York and New Jersey.”
Swain called it a historic day for Pennsylvania and praised Jones’ opinion for its “elegant simplicity.”
“It’s a very straightforward, simply written decision but it will have a dramatic impact,” Swain said, adding that Jones’ opinion is “very strong in its legal conclusions and the legal bases he relies on for his conclusions.”
Clifford said the decision was a “fantastic move forward” for marriage equality.
Cletus P. Lyman, a principal of Lyman & Ash and one of the founders of GALLOP, called Jones’ decision “one of the strongest district court opinions in favor of marriage equality” to come down thus far, pointing specifically to Jones’ application of heightened scrutiny to his equal protection analysis of the marriage ban.
Not every lawyer in Pennsylvania praised Jones’ decision, however.
Randall Wenger, chief counsel to the Pennsylvania Family Institute, said his organization disagreed with Jones’ ruling because it undermines the traditional definition of marriage.
“We all want a more civil and loving society, but I don’t think we achieve that by forcing through the courts a new definition of marriage,” Wenger said. “The people of Pennsylvania deserve to believe that there is something unique about a man and a woman making a life together.”
Wenger said the interests of Pennsylvanians would be best served by having a public debate on the issue and not a discussion that has been “short-circuited by the opinion of a judge.”
Pointing to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent in Windsor, Wenger said the justice recognized that “folks who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman are treated like enemies of the state.”
“The decision that was meant to expand tolerance’s abilities may actually be undermining that,” Wenger added.
When asked how Jones’ decision could negatively impact Pennsylvanians, Wenger said, “We have yet to see what the long-term effects are of same-sex marriage, but there are a lot of effects. It continues to change the notion of what marriage is.”