Update, May 21: Gov. Tom Corbett said today that he will not continue to fight against same-sex marriage because "the case is extremely unlikely to succeed on appeal." This means that there should be no further legal threats to same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania. Corbett compared gay marriage to incest last year.
Update, 2:29 p.m.: U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III struck down Pennsylvania's same-sex marriage ban on Tuesday. In his opinion, Jones writes that the Pennsylvania laws banning same-sex marriage violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Jones wrote that his court "now join[s] the twelve federal district courts across the country which, when confronted with these inequities in their own states, have concluded that all couples deserve equal dignity in the realm of civil marriage."
There was no stay appended to the ruling. Philadelphia Register of Wills Ron Donatucci began issuing marriage licenses immediately after the decision, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Governor Tom Corbett's administration has 30 days to appeal the decision.
After today's PA DOMA decision, the register of wills is staying open late today - till 530 pm. Tomorrow extended hours 8 am - 7 pm.— City of Philadelphia (@PhiladelphiaGov) May 20, 2014
At this point, we're used to seeing pretty strong opinions against these bans from the district courts. But Jones's opinion has the same-sex marriage progress gas pedal to the floor. In his opinion, Jones concluded (emphasis ours):
The issue we resolve today is a divisive one. Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of "separate but equal..." In the sixty years since Brown was decided, "separate has thankfully faded into history, and only "equal" remains. 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.
As @nycsouthpaw spotted, even some of the headers on Jones's opinion are excerpts from traditional marriage vows:
Jones, by the way, is a George W. Bush appointee. He's handled a few high-profile cases before, including a decision against teaching "intelligent design" in public schools in the state. The full decision is available at the bottom of this post.