Philadelphia, May 20, 2014– Mayor Michael A. Nutter released the following statement on Federal District Judge John E. Jones’ decision that the Pennsylvania Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional:
“Today is a historic day in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and another victory in the long fight for equality and freedom for every American. It is a totally joyous day for Pennsylvania’s lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender communities, advocates and allies.
In the wake of last summer’s Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Windsor, 21 individuals, couples and families from across the Commonwealth, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), filed suit in Federal District Court for the right to marry the person they love and to have that marriage recognized under the law.
On the legal side, case after case across the country demonstrated that a state has no legitimate interest or anything to protect in this particular regard. On the moral side, this is about equal rights for every citizen – the right to be in a loving, caring relationship with the person you love, no matter your sexual orientation or preference.
As the Mayor of Philadelphia, I have been a proud champion for LGBT issues. Many years ago, in the 1990s, I was honored to work on legislation that offered domestic partner benefits to City employees, relationship recognition for same-sex couples and created anti-discrimination policies. With that legislation and subsequent extensions of it, Philadelphia now has the strongest civil rights law and protections of any city. We were even recognized by the Human Rights Campaign as the number one city for LGBT equality earlier this year.
And, in my work as national Co-Chair of Freedom to Marry’s Mayors for Marriage Equality, I have encouraged other mayors to come out in support of marriage equality. As elected officials, we must represent the interests of all of our constituents – every person, every family and every life. In Philadelphia, the birthplace of democracy, and Pennsylvania, a state founded on the basic tenets of tolerance, we all benefit when the rights of a group are attained or reaffirmed.
This past Saturday, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education, one of the most historic Supreme Court decisions ever made. That case was about educational rights, determining that “separate but equal” was both unconstitutional and unacceptable. Recently, I have spent a great deal of time talking about another issue – public education – and how “separate but underfunded” schools should also be unacceptable to Pennsylvanians. Just like Pennsylvanians stood against the Voter ID law and won, we should all rejoice that unequal treatment under the law is deemed unconstitutional in today’s decision.
After nearly two decades of discrimination under Pennsylvania’s DOMA, same sex individuals, couples and families will finally be treated equally. I have said many times that I am looking forward to the day when I can legally marry same-sex couples. I have a number of friends who have been waiting for me to legally perform their marriage ceremony. With Judge Jones’ decision, I will finally be able to do so. But, the fight for civil rights and human rights continues in Philadelphia and all across the United States.”