ACLU case fast-tracked


A decision could be made in the coming weeks in a case filed by same-sex couples challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Whitewood v. Wolf, filed last summer by the American Civil Liberties Union and firm Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller, was slated to head to trial June 9. But, both parties agreed this week to have the case decided upon the briefs, rather than a trial.

All briefs will be filed by May 12, and the judge could rule days after.

“We are pleased that this case will be moving forward quickly,” said John S. Stapleton of Hangley Aronchick. “Our clients have waited long enough for the state to recognize the love and commitment that these couples have for each other.”

The decision to circumvent a trial was made after the state said it would not call any expert witnesses to explain the reasons same-sex couples should be excluded from marriage, nor would it dispute the detriments plaintiffs say marriage inequality causes same-sex couples.

“We are pleased that the state has agreed to allow the Whitewood v. Wolf case to proceed in this expedient manner,” said Equality Pennsylvania executive director Ted Martin. “All committed couples in Pennsylvania should be allowed to share in the freedom to marry, and we hope the court will come to the same reasonable decision that the majority of Pennsylvanians have come to — that all families should be treated with the same dignity and respect.”

The case was filed on behalf of 11 couples, two of their children and a widow. It was the first of a series of legal challenges to the state law filed last summer.