Thursday, May 22, 2014

Same Sex Marriage in PA is Here to Stay?

Well, that was quick. On Tuesday morning, Pennsylvania prohibited same sex marriages; by Tuesday afternoon, Judge Jones struck down the prohibition as unconstitutional, and on Wednesday, Governor Corbett announced he would not appeal the decision. Barring some extraordinary circumstances, this likely means the end of the road for the case and the start of same sex marriages in Pennsylvania.

[Sidebar: You never know if some advocacy group, group of legislators, or maybe even some subset of the governor's branch will try to pick up the appeal - such groups likely do not have standing to appeal the decision, but who knows what will pop up]

Gov. Corbett's rationale seemed a little odd:
I have thoroughly reviewed Judge Jones’ opinion in the Whitewood case. Given the high legal threshold set forth by Judge Jones in this case, the case is extremely unlikely to succeed on appeal.
Presumably, any appeal would be de novo and the "legal threshold" set by Judge Jones would be irrelevant. In other words, the appellate court (here, the Third Circuit) would perform its own legal analysis and not be restricted by Judge Jones's ruling.

The ruling generating some initial confusion at the county Register of Wills level. The RoWs should now be issuing same sex marriage licenses to couples who otherwise meet the requirements under Pennsylvania law.