“We are a better people than what these laws represent.”
On May 20, 2014, we prevailed in Whitewood v. Wolf, overturning the Pennsylvania Defense of Marriage Act and legalizing same-sex marriage in the Commonwealth. The matter began in July 2013 when, as volunteer counsel working with the American Civil Liberties Union, we filed the first federal lawsuit following United States v. Windsor challenging a state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples. The firm represented 25 gay and lesbian individuals in Pennsylvania who wished to marry in Pennsylvania or wanted the state to recognize their out-of-state marriages, as well as two children of one of the plaintiff couples. The suit alleged that the state’s refusal to allow lesbian and gay couples to marry or recognize their out-of-state marriages violated the fundamental right to marry under the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The firm argued that the court should use a high level of scrutiny to evaluate this discriminatory treatment because the state’s Defense of Marriage Act burdened the fundamental right to marry and because it discriminated based on sexual orientation and gender, but that, in any event, Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples would not survive any level of constitutional scrutiny. In striking the law, the court wrote, “We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”
On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court struck down all remaining state same-sex marriage bans. Click here to read our announcement.
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