Ministers, Officiants & Notaries Public
May 20, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones has struck down Pennsylvania’s ban on gay marriage.
There appears to be no immediate stay of the ruling. Gay couples can marry now!
Writes Jones in the ruling:
Based on the foregoing, we hold that Pennsylvania’s Marriage Laws violate both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Because these laws are unconstitutional, we shall enter an order permanently enjoining their enforcement. 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 issue we resolve today is a divisive one. Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of “separate but equal.” In the sixty years since Brown (v. Board of Education) was decided, “separate” has thankfully faded into history, and only “equal” remains. Similarly, in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage.
We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.
More on the case:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the American Civil Liberties Union, and volunteer counsel from the law firm of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller filed a federal lawsuit on July 9, 2013, on behalf of 21 Pennsylvanians who wish to marry in Pennsylvania or want the commonwealth to recognize their out-of-state marriages.
The lawsuit alleges that Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act and refusal to marry lesbian and gay couples or recognize their out-of-state marriages violates the fundamental right to marry as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This lawsuit comes in the wake of the ACLU’s victory before the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Windsor, which requires federal recognition for lesbian and gay couples who are married in their home states. Plaintiffs argue that the court should closely scrutinize this discriminatory treatment because the state’s Defense of Marriage Act burdens the fundamental right to marry and because it discriminates based on sex and sexual orientation.
Yesterday, July 4, 2014, the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a motion to appeal the ruling striking down Pennsylvania’s gay marriage ban.
The attempt came from Court Clerk Theresa Santai-Gaffney, of Schuylkill County. Santai-Gaffney has not been dissuaded by the court’s judgement; she plans to climb the judicial ladder and take her argument to the U.S. Supreme Court.
For those who need a refresher, on May 20, U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones struck down Pennsylvania’s ban on gay marriage. Without an immediate stay on the ruling, gay couples were immediately allowed to marry.
In his decision, Judge Jones deemed the ban illegal, citing a violation of the “Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
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PENNSYLVANIA STATE LAWS
2010 Pennsylvania Code
Title 23 – Domestic Reelations
§ 1310. Duration and form of license.
The marriage license shall not be valid for a longer period than 60 days from the date of issue and shall be in substantially the following form:
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
ss: No. ….
County of (name)
To any person authorized by law to solemnize marriage:
You are hereby authorized to join together in holy state of matrimony, according to the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, (name) and (name).
Given under my hand and seal of the Court of Common Pleas of (name), at (city, borough or town), on (date).
§ 1501. Form of marriage certificates.
The marriage license shall have appended to it two certificates, numbered to correspond with the license (one marked original and one marked duplicate), which shall be in
substantially the following form:
I hereby certify that on (date), at (city, borough or town), Pennsylvania, (name) and (name) were by me united in marriage, in accordance with license issued by the Court of
Common Pleas of (name) numbered …..
(Title of person solemnizing marriage)
Cross References. Section 1501 is referred to in section
1502 of this title.
§ 1502. Forms where parties perform ceremony.
(a) Declaration of authorization.–In all cases in which the parties intend to solemnize their marriage by religious ceremony without officiating clergy, the marriage shall not take place
until their right so to do is certified in a declaration in substantially the following form:
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
ss: No. ….
County of (name)
To (name) and (name)
Legal evidence having been furnished to me, in accordance with law, this certifies that I am satisfied that there is no legal impediment to you joining yourselves together in
(b) Marriage certificates.–In lieu of the certificate set forth in section 1501 (relating to form of marriage certificates), there shall be appended to the declaration two
certificates, numbered to correspond to the declaration, in the following form:
We hereby certify that on (date), we united ourselves in marriage, at (city, borough or town), County of (name), Pennsylvania, having first obtained from the Court of Common
Pleas of (name) a declaration numbered …. that the court was satisfied that there was no existing legal impediment to our so doing.
We, the undersigned, were present at the solemnization of the marriage of (name) and (name), as set forth in the foregoing certificate.
§ 1503. Persons qualified to solemnize marriages.
(a) General rule.–The following are authorized to solemnize marriages between persons that produce a marriage license issued under this part:
(1) A justice, judge or magisterial district judge of this Commonwealth.
(2) A former or retired justice, judge or magisterial district judge of this Commonwealth who is serving as a senior judge or senior magisterial district judge as provided or prescribed by law; or not serving as a senior judge or senior magisterial district judge but meets the following criteria:
(i) has served as a magisterial district judge, judge or justice, whether or not continuously or on the same court, by election or appointment for an aggregate period equaling a full term of office;
(ii) has not been defeated for reelection or retention;
(iii) as not been convicted of, pleaded nolo contendere to or agreed to an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or other probation without verdict program relative to any misdemeanor or felony offense under the laws of this Commonwealth or an equivalent offense under the laws of the United States or one of its territories or possessions, another state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a foreign nation;
(iv) has not resigned a judicial commission to avoid having charges filed or to avoid prosecution by Federal, State or local law enforcement agencies or by the Judicial Conduct Board;
(v) has not been removed from office by the Court of Judicial Discipline; and (vi) is a resident of this Commonwealth.
(3) An active or senior judge or full-time magistrate of the District Courts of the United States for the Eastern, Middle or Western District of Pennsylvania.
(3.1) An active, retired or senior bankruptcy judge of the United States Bankruptcy Courts for the Eastern, Middle or Western District of Pennsylvania who is a resident of this
(4) An active, retired or senior judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit who is a resident of this Commonwealth.
(5) A mayor of any city or borough of this Commonwealth.
(5.1) A former mayor of a city or borough of this Commonwealth who:
(i) has not been defeated for reelection;
(ii) has not been convicted of, pleaded nolo contendere to or agreed to an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or other probation without verdict program relative to a misdemeanor or felony offense under the laws of this Commonwealth or an equivalent offense under the laws of the United States or any one of its possessions, another state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a foreign nation;
(iii) has not resigned the position of mayor to avoid having charges filed or to avoid prosecution by Federal, State or local law enforcement agencies;
(iv) has served as a mayor, whether continuously or not, by election for an aggregate of a full term in office; and
(v) is a resident of this Commonwealth.
(6) A minister, priest or rabbi of any regularly established church or congregation.
(b) Religious organizations.–Every religious society, religious institution or religious organization in this Commonwealth may join persons together in marriage when at least
one of the persons is a member of the society, institution or organization, according to the rules and customs of the society, institution or organization.
(c) Marriage license needed to officiate.–No person or religious organization qualified to perform marriages shall officiate at a marriage ceremony without the parties having
obtained a marriage license issued under this part.
(June 22, 2000, P.L.443, No.59, eff. imd.; Nov. 30, 2004, P.L.1618, No.207, eff. 60 days; Dec. 1, 2004, P.L.1777, No.232, eff. 60 days; July 14, 2009, P.L.81, No.18, eff. imd.)
2004 Amendment. See sections 28 and 29 of Act 207 in the appendix to this title for special provisions relating to applicability and construction of law.
§ 1504. Returns of marriages.
(a) General rule.–The original marriage certificate shall be signed by the person solemnizing the marriage and given to the parties contracting the marriage. The duplicate certificate shall be signed by the person or by a member of the religious society, institution or organization solemnizing the marriage and returned for recording within ten days to the court which issued the license.
(b) Marriage performed by parties.–If the marriage was solemnized by the parties themselves, the original certificate shall be signed by the parties to the marriage, attested by two witnesses and retained by the parties contracting the marriage. The duplicate certificate shall be signed by the parties to the marriage, attested by the same two witnesses and returned for recording within ten days to the court issuing the license.