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Article published June 26, 2013
High court ruling won’t change state gay marriage ban
HARRISBURG — The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage Wednesday said nothing that would affect the validity of Pennsylvania’s ban, as potential Democratic challengers to Republican Gov. Tom Corbett lined up in support of legalizing gay marriage in the state. Despite the Supreme Court decision, gay marriage bans still stand in Pennsylvania and roughly three dozen other states. Pennsylvania’s constitution, however, does not ban gay marriage, as some other states’ constitutions do. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court struck down part of federal law that effectively denied federal benefits to gays and lesbians who are legally married. The ruling effectively allows gays and lesbians who are legally married and live in states that allow same-sex marriage to receive the same federal benefits that are available to married heterosexual couples. Every other state in the northeastern United States allows same-sex marriage except New Jersey, and it allows civil unions. A 1996 Pennsylvania state law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and state law doesn’t allow civil unions. Corbett has said he supports Pennsylvania’s ban and would support a state constitutional ban on gay marriage. On Wednesday, the three Democrats who are lining up to challenge Corbett in 2014 hailed the Supreme Court decision, raising the possibility that gay marriage could emerge as a campaign issue.