Same-sex Philly couple wants state to recognize their marriage

GaymarriageThere’s another case stemming from Philadelphia that could change marriage equality laws as we know them.

Filed by Cara Palladino and Isabelle Barker and coordinated by Equality Forum, the case essentially argues that Pennsylvania should recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages—and once it does, the 32 states without marriage equality would likely have to follow suit.

The case will force federal courts to look at issues regarding same-sex marriage that haven’t been addressed while challenging Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act.

Palladino and Barker, who’ve been together since 1998 and have two children, moved to Pennsylvania from Massachusetts in August 2005, about six months after their marriage, after Palladino was accepted into a post-doc fellowship at Bryn Mawr College.

“They’re denied 670 state marital benefits,” says Malcolm Lazin, executive director of Equality Forum, “and there are 1,138 federal benefits the federal statute denies to same-sex couples.”

Lazin notes that many of the problems heterosexual couples take for granted—things like health insurance, filing separate tax returns, more easily becoming a legal parent to your spouse’s child—that would be solved if the couple win the suit.

Pennsylvania law currently declares out-of-state marriages “void.”

On Monday, the couple filed a motion for summary judgment in federal court in Philadelphia, asking the court to strike down the Pennsylvania statute that says out-of-state marriages are not recognized. A summary judgment implies there is no trial, just a decision by a judge.

The basis for the suit is the 14th Amendment, which promises both due process and equal protection in the United States.

If granted, the couple would get the same legal respect as all marriages in the state. Lazin says he expects a judgment this spring, which is well before any decision on the cases filed this summer would come down. The case filed by the ACLU last summer is expected to begin in June. Lazin notes, no matter who wins, there will probably be an appeal afterwards.

@RandyLoBasso on Twitter

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