Since the first marriage lawsuit for same-sex couples in 1971, the ACLU has been at the forefront of both legal and public education efforts to secure marriage for same-sex couples and win legal recognition for LGBTQ relationships.
Marriage has long been one way that couples express their love for one another and their commitment to their relationship. Gay and lesbian couples want to get married to make a lifetime commitment to the person they love and to protect their families.
In the United States, sixteen states plus D.C. allow same-sex couples to marry, one more respects marriages of same-sex couples validly performed in other states, and four provide civil unions or comprehensive domestic partnerships. That’s 19 states plus D.C. that provide some significant state-level relationship protections, and those states are home to 130 million people. Unfortunately Pennsylvania isn't one of them. The commonwealth continues to treat married same-sex couples as legal strangers.
In July 2013, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the ACLU, and the law firm of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller filed a lawsuit, Whitewood v. Wolf, challenging Pennsylvania's 1996 law banning recognition of marriages of same-sex couples.
On April 21, 2014, plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment.
On May 20, 2014, a federal judge ruled in our favor, striking down Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples.
On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that section three of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) is unconstitutional and that the federal government cannot discriminate against married lesbian and gay couples for the purposes of determining federal benefits and protections.
After DOMA: What It Means for You: LGBTQ Organizations Fact Sheet Series details many of the ways federal agencies accord legal respect to married same-sex couples. The guide includes 14 factsheets on the following topics: Bankruptcy, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), Federal Employee Benefits, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Immigration, Medicaid, Medicare, Military Spousal Benefits, Private Employment Benefits, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Taxes, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Veteran Spousal Benefits. (Please note that the law is continuing to change in these areas.)