HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Gay couples and others challenging Pennsylvania’s 1996 law banning same-sex marriage asked a federal judge Monday to bypass a trial in favor of a quicker ruling in the case.
Lawyers representing the plaintiffs filed the request in federal court in Harrisburg, saying they no longer see the need for a trial, which had been scheduled to begin June 9.
They say Gov. Tom Corbett’s office has not refuted their arguments concerning their relationships and their inability to get the same legal protection and tax benefits afforded to married couples.
“Today we have provided the court with moving personal stories from all of our plaintiff families describing how this ban hurts them and their loved ones,” said Witold J. Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. “We hope the judge will see the profound harm caused by this law and strike it down.”
A spokesman for Corbett, who opposes same-sex marriage and is defending the law, said the governor’s office plans to also request a ruling without a trial.
A decision from U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, if he decides to rule without the case going to trial, is not expected before May 12, the deadline for both sides to respond to each other’s motions.
Every state in the Northeast, except Pennsylvania, recognizes same-sex marriages. In all, 17 states give legal status to gay marriage. The ACLU said that in challenges to laws in other states banning gay marriage, federal district courts have issued 11 consecutive favorable rulings.
The Pennsylvania lawsuit, filed July 9, was the first known challenge to the state law that effectively bans same-sex marriage and the recognition of gay marriages from other states.
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