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Same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania

Same-sex couples in Pennsylvania may benefit from reviewing some of the information published by the ACLU to address many of the questions that are asked frequently. According to a U.S. District Judge's May 20 ruling, Pennsylvania will now recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages and will allow same-sex couples to get married in the state. The next day, the governor confirmed that he would decline to appeal the ruling.

Several municipalities in the state have already established laws prohibiting local business from denying services based on sexual orientation. However, the state has yet to implement a law against sexual orientation discrimination, so private businesses under some jurisdictions may feel entitled to refuse services. In addition, the judge's ruling does not have the authority to order churches to perform same-sex marriages. The First Amendment prohibits the government from interfering with churches' religious freedom to decline any involvement in supporting ceremonies contrary to their beliefs.

Most employers are expected to provide same-sex married couples with equitable heath care, but there might be a few exceptions due to the state's lack of a sexual orientation nondiscrimination law. However, the state's General Assembly is currently considering legislation that could potentially prohibit housing, public accommodation or employment discrimination against LGBT residents of Pennsylvania. Despite the recognition of same-sex marriages, couples will still need to go through the same legal adoption process with children.

Same-sex couples who are interested in learning more about how the new ruling may affect their particular situation may benefit from speaking with legal counsel. Family lawyers may be effective in helping these couples apply for any modifications to their legal status, with completing the process for legal adoption or even with a divorce.

Source: ACLU, "FAQ about Marriage for Same-Sex Couples", October 28, 2014

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