Two new lawsuits press Pa. to recognize same-sex marriages

A few years ago, Cara Palladino first presented her marriage license to her employer to try to add her wife to her health insurance. She married Isabelle Barker in Massachusetts in 2005, before the two moved to Pennsylvania. But the employer could not accept the marriage license because of Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban.

“I said my Massachusetts marriage certificate is the same as any couple that comes from Massachusetts. It seems that that’s the essence of discrimination,” Palladino said, who has since moved to a new job.

The couple filed a lawsuit in federal court today, arguing their new home state should recognize their union.

“We have a son who is four and a half,” said Barker. “He is starting to ask us questions about ‘Are you guys married?’ He just asked us yesterday, and it’s sort of befuddling for us that we don’t have a really clear answer for him about that. If we lived in Massachusetts, we would have a very easy answer: ‘Yes, of course.'”

The couple’s attorneys are making different legal arguments from those in a separate lawsuit the ACLU filed in federal court this summer.

Their attorney, Michael Banks of the law firm, Morgan Lewis & Bockius said that, to his knowledge, this is the first lawsuit in the nation to try to make the argument that the “full faith and credit clause,” which relates to states’ recognition of contracts and records from other states, applies to the 37 states which do not recognize same-sex marriage.

This suit comes right after 32 Pennsylvania same-sex couples issued marriage licenses by a rogue clerk in Montgomery County filed their own request in state court to have their marriages recognized.

A state judge has barred that clerk from granting licenses to other same-sex couples, but he did not issue a ruling on whether the liceneses already issued are invalid.

Editor’s note: This is a corrected version of the story. The original one misidentified the name of the employer from which Cara Palladino had sought coverage for her spouse. Her current employer, Bryn Mawr College, offers domestic partner benefits to same-sex partners but is similarly unable to accept the marriage licence as proof of shared financial responsibility because of the state’s ban.

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