June 9 Trail Date for PA Gay-marriage Ban Challenge

Challenge expected as early as next week

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III has set June 9 as the trial date for a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s gay-marriage ban. In the process, Jones rejecting a request by defendants to delay the proceeding. The two major defendants are the Pennsylvania secretaries of the departments of Health and Revenue.

Jones said, the Associated Press and ABC News reported, a defense request to delay the trial until August would be unnecessary. “I’m an optimist by nature,” he said.

Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state that bars same-sex marriage. Nationally, Illinois this week joined 15 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing it.

State Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat who took office in January, has refused to defend the law in court, saying it violates the state and federal constitutions.

William Lamb, a former state Supreme Court justice who heads the private legal team that Republican Gov. Tom Corbett hired to defend the state officials, said he plans to appeal Jones’ ruling to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by next week.

The defendants’ motion cited a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision to argue that federal courts lack jurisdiction over state marriage laws. But Jones said that decision has been eroded by the court’s subsequent rulings on constitutional challenges based on sex or sexual identity.

“The jurisprudence of equal protection and substantive due process has undergone what can only be characterized as a sea change since 1972,” Jones said in his opinion.

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