Plaintiffs in Pa. same-sex lawsuit ask court for decision before trial

The 23 plaintiffs, which include two Penn Law lecturers, filed suit on July 9, 2013

· April 21, 2014, 8:00 pm   ·  Updated April 22, 2014, 1:27 am

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Ten same-sex couples, one widow and two children seeking to overturn Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage asked a federal court on Monday to decide their lawsuit against the state before it reaches trial in June.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Whitewood v. Wolf, include Law School lecturers Fernando Chang-Muy and Len Rieser, who have been a couple for over 30 years.

The goal of the lawsuit is to legalize same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania and have out-of-state marriages recognized by the Commonwealth, as the plaintiffs argue the current ban violates the U.S. Constitution.

The suit was initially filed on July 9, 2013 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, volunteer counsel from the law firm Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller and Penn Law professor Seth Kreimer following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in United States v. Windsor, which overturned the Defense of Marriage Act.

Both the plaintiffs and the Commonwealth have agreed that the trial for the case — which was previously scheduled to begin in June — is not necessary, according to an ACLU press release, since the Commonwealth said it would not “call experts to counter the plaintiffs’ argument.”

“We have put together a record that answers every question and every objection that every opponent has raised in any court in the United States,” said Mark Aronchick, a 1971 College graduate and attorney representing the plaintiffs.

The ruling in the lawsuit is expected to come any time after May 12, as all remaining documents must be filed by that date.

“[Same-sex marriage] is the most significant civil rights issue in the country today, and this is one of the most important cases advancing that issue,” Aronchick added. “We are very enthusiastic about the case ... and are looking forward to the day that justice prevails.”

A lawyer for the defendants, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Michael Wolf and Secretary of Revenue Dan Meuser, was unavailable for comment as of press time.

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