Federal Judge Strikes Down Pennsylvania Same-Sex Marriage Ban

A federal district judge struck down a ban on same-sex marriages in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, giving American gay rights campaigners their third judiciary victory in just a week.

"We hold that Pennsylvania's marriage laws violate both the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14h Amendment to the United States Constitution," said Judge John Jones in a 39-page ruling.

"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," he added.

Gay rights activists welcomed the decision on a lawsuit filed by a widow, 11 couples and two of their teenage children.

"This is a momentous day for our clients and all same-sex couples in Pennsylvania who want to have their love and commitment to each other recognized in the same way as that of other couples," said Reggie Shuford of the Pennsylvania branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

On Monday, a federal judge in Oregon made a similar ruling as did a judge last Wednesday in Idaho.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia currently allow same-sex couples to marry, and courts across the country, including in Oklahoma, Utah and Arkansas, have struck down state laws banning marriage for same-sex couples, ACLU said.

A landmark Supreme Court decision last June found that couples in same-sex marriages were entitled to the same benefits and protections as their heterosexual counterparts.

Marriage laws are governed by individual US states, more than 30 of which still ban same-sex weddings.

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