PLAINS TOWNSHIP — The LGBT community in Luzerne County celebrated an historic ruling in favor of same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania on Tuesday.
Judge John E. Jones overturned the ban on gay marriage in the state, making Pennsylvania the last state in the Northeast to recognize same-sex marriage. He compared the state’s marriage laws to racial segregation.
In his historic ruling, Judge Jones said: “Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. “
Members of the NEPA Rainbow Alliance in Plains Township held a celebration after the ruling. The group’s board was originally scheduled to hold a meeting on Tuesday, but when news of the ruling spread, they opted for a party instead.
“It means our relationships are recognized by the state of Pennsylvania. It was already recognized by the federal government and now they’re being recognized in the state of Pennsylvania. So, this is really big for us,” said Carl Halkyer of Waverly.
One woman who has been with her partner for 14 years, said, this week, that partner will undergo surgery. With the judge’s ruling, the women will have full spousal privileges at the hospital, since the couple recently got married in Massachusetts. While other people said the ruling doesn’t want to make them run out and get married, they hope it gives other people the courage to be themselves.
“Hopefully more people are going to come out and not be afraid to come out because so many people are hiding. That’s why I’m out. I’m not afraid to come out, I’m not afraid of losing my job or losing my house, I’m not afraid of that. Two years ago I said I’m coming out and helping and fighting and we’re going an awesome job,” said Beth Hartman from Hanover Township.
While people who support same-sex marriage say at the end of the day, the ruling is all about equality.
“Life should be about love and acceptance, and how much better this world would be if we could all just do that,” said Hartman.
As for the ruling, the state can still challenge the decision and file an appeal before the 3rd. US circuit.