It’s been a while since we’ve heard from federal judge John E. Jones III, but you’ll surely remember him as the judge who presided over the Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District et al. case in Pennsylvania in 2005. And, though a George W. Bush appointee, a Lutheran, and a Republican, Jones simply threw the defense’s case for teaching Intelligent Design (ID) into the trash, calling ID “not science” and accusing the defendants of “breathtaking inanity.”
Now he’s made another landmark decision, and again in the liberal and rational tradition. According to CNN (and many other venues), yesterday Jones struck down the Pennsylvania anti-same-sex marriage law as unconstitutional. And he gave no stay on his decision, so it will be effective immediately:
Other courts’ decisions have been stayed, pending appeals — meaning gay and lesbian couples can’t marry in those states until an appeals court weighs in. Same-sex couples in Oregon began getting marriage licenses Monday after a similar federal court ruling, which that state did not appeal though the National Organization for Marriage subsequently did.
Jones issued an order Tuesday permanently barring authorities in Pennsylvania from preventing same-sex couples from getting marriage licenses. That means people could apply for licenses right away, even if weddings don’t happen so fast: Pennsylvania has a waiting period of three business days between applying for and obtaining a marriage license.
. . . In his ruling Tuesday pertaining to Pennsylvania, Jones echoed many assertions made recently by his federal court colleagues.
“The fundamental right to marry as protected by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution encompasses the right to marry a person of one’s own sex,” Jones wrote, adding that both Pennsylvania’s banning of same-sex marriage within its borders and its failure to recognize such unions performed in other states are unconstitutional.
The judge added that there is no “important governmental interest” that would warrant preventing gay and lesbian couples from marrying.
You can read the whole decision as a pdf file here, but I’ve taken a screenshot of the very last lines, which will make your heart swell. (The CNN site also has a nice video.)