HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -
This morning, the ACLU filed the first-known legal challenge seeking to overturn a state law that effectively bans gay marriage in Pennsylvania.
The ACLU said Tuesday that it's representing one widow, 10 couples and one of the couples' two teenage daughters. One of those couples, Marla Cattermole and Julia Lobur, is from Harrisburg and got married in Iowa four years ago.
"Really, I'm doing it for Pennsylvania," said Julia Lobur. "Pennsylvania needs to be a place where all couples can have the freedom to love and live and carry on their lives the way they see fit, no matter what the composition of those couples are."
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Harrisburg, also asks a federal judge to prevent state officials from stopping gay couples from getting married in the state.
The ACLU does not expect the case to go to trial for about a year. If the suit is successful, Pennsylvania would become the 14th state to legalize gay marriage.
When asked about the challenge at an unrelated press conference Tuesday, Gov. Tom Corbett said he would not comment on litigation he had not seen but did not appear concerned about the move.
"Clearly the Supreme Court of the United States said it's up to states to decide what to do," said Corbett. "So a lawsuit to overturn what is a law in Pennsylvania, I don't think it will carry much weight."
Michael Geer from the Pennsylvania Family Institute believes this issue needs to be decided by the people.
"We're disappointed that the ACLU has decided to short circuit the political process on this issue of such importance," he said.
A 1996 Pennsylvania state law defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and says same-sex marriages, even if entered legally elsewhere, are void in Pennsylvania.
The ACLU says that's unconstitutional because same-sex couples don't have access to the same legal and financial protections as do opposite-sex couples.
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