“We have filed this case today because these families deserve the security of knowing that, in times of crisis, their loved ones will be protected and provided for.”

Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller has partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to file a federal lawsuit on behalf of 21 Pennsylvanians who seek the freedom to marry in Pennsylvania or want the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to recognize their out-of-state marriages.

Hangley Aronchick litigation attorneys Mark A. Aronchick, John S. Stapleton,Dylan J. Steinberg, and Rebecca S. Melley, and family law litigation attorney Helen E. Casale, a leading expert on legal issues facing same-sex couples in Pennsylvania, serve as volunteer counsel in the suit. The suit alleges that Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act and refusal to marry lesbian and gay couples or recognize their out-of-state marriages violate the fundamental right to marry, as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. These plaintiffs come from across the state, and include ten couples, one widow, and the teenage children of one of the plaintiff couples.

“We believe that this law cannot stand under any level of scrutiny because excluding same-sex couples from marriage does not further any legitimate government interest. It serves only to insult and hurt lesbian and gay couples and their families,” said Mark Aronchick of Hangley Aronchick. “We have filed this case today because these families deserve the security of knowing that, in times of crisis, their loved ones will be protected and provided for.”

This lawsuit comes in the wake of the ACLU’s victory before the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Windsor, which requires federal recognition for lesbian and gay couples who are married under state law. Plaintiffs argue that the court should closely scrutinize this discriminatory treatment because the state’s Defense of Marriage Act burdens the fundamental right to marry and because it discriminates based on sex and sexual orientation.

“As the cradle of American liberty, it is shameful that Pennsylvania denies some families the dignity and respect that can only come with marriage,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “It’s wrong that the state where these couples live, work, and raise families treats them as second-class couples.”

In addition to the Hangley Aronchick attorneys on the matter, the plaintiffs also are represented by James Esseks and Leslie Cooper of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project; Witold Walczak, Mary Catherine Roper, and Molly Tack-Hooper of the ACLU-PA; and Seth Kreimer of the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

About the American Civil Liberties Union:
The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation’s guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States. For more information, please visit www.aclu.org or www.aclupa.org.

Click the link below to read the full complaint.

Read the Complaint