A federal judge on Tuesday brought "the freedom to marry to the entire Northeast" in declaring Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
"In the sixty years since Brown was decided, 'separate' has thankfully faded into history, and only 'equal' remains," U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III wrote in his ruling. "Similarly, in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage. We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history."
The ruling comes as a result of a lawsuit filed on behalf of 21 Pennsylvanians who either wanted to get married in the state or have their out-of-state marriage recognized by Pennsylvania.
"This is yet another win in a long line of rulings finding that denying same-sex couples the protections and dignity of marriage is unconstitutional," Leslie Cooper, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project, stated. "Across the country, Americans are embracing the idea that same-sex couples and their families deserve to be treated the same as other families."
As MSNBC reported, the ruling follows a series of positive steps towards marriage equality:
In the last 11 months, marriage equality has come to five states, bringing the total number to 18, plus the District of Columbia. Federal judges have also struck down same-sex marriage bans in Idaho, Oklahoma, Virginia, Michigan, Texas, and Utah, though their decisions are on hold for the appeals process.
"Today's win in Pennsylvania finally brings the freedom to marry to the entire Northeast," added Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry. "Loving and committed couples and their families in the nation's sixth largest state will be able to share in the joy, security and dignity that come with the freedom to marry. The stone that was once left out has become the keystone, and now it's time to finish the job nationwide."