Citing last June’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Windsor v. US, federal district judge John E. Jones has invalidated Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage. The decision could eventually force employers to revamp benefits programs to include employees’ same-sex spouses.
“Because these laws are unconstitutional, we shall enter an order permanently enjoining their enforcement,” Jones wrote in his opinion, handed down in late May. “By virtue of this ruling, same-sex couples who seek to marry in Pennsylvania may do so, and already married same-sex couples will be recognized as such in the Commonwealth.”
The next move is up to Gov. Tom Corbett. He could move to appeal the decision, following the lead of same-sex marriage foes in other states where judges issued similar rulings. In all those cases, lower court decisions have been stayed pending the appeals’ outcomes.
Note: The federal case revolved around a federal employee’s survivor’s benefits from a same-sex partner. Should this decision stand, Pennsylvania employers will have to revamp theirto ensure same-sex partners have the same rights as traditionally married spouses.