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Oral Arguments Scheduled for Federal Same-Sex Marriage Case Filed in Pennsylvania.

United States District Judge Mary McLaughlin has scheduled oral arguments on May 15 at 9:30 am in Courtroom 13-A, US Courthouse, 6th & Market Streets in the case of Palladino v. Corbett.

Filed in September 2013 in Philadelphia, the federal lawsuit declares unconstitutional the Pennsylvania statute and similar statues that ban recognition of same-sex marriages entered into legally in other states. The suit raises important constitutional questions the courts have not addressed, including the impact of the Full Faith and Credit clause, which requires states to respect judgment, decrees and orders of other states, and the constitutional right to travel between states without penalty or deprivation of legal rights. It also raises claims under the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the United States Constitution.

Support Marriage Recognition

The focus of the suit is Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act, which singles out same-sex couples for discriminatory treatment by refusing to recognize marriage licenses legally issued in other states. The complaint names Governor Thomas Corbett and Attorney General Kathleen Kane as the defendants.

The suit was brought by Cara Palladino and Isabelle Barker, who were married in February 2005 in their home state of Massachusetts. The couple has been together since 1998. They relocated to Pennsylvania in August 2005, when Isabelle accepted a post-doctoral fellowship at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Cara and Isabelle have one son who was born in January 2009.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia permit same-sex couples to marry; there are an estimated 125,000 married same-sex couples in the United States. Like their heterosexual counterparts, married same-sex couples and their families often relocate to other states for business, education or other reasons. Under the law in Pennsylvania and the 31 other states that do not recognize same-sex marriage, these couples and their families are treated as second-class citizens. Palladino v. Corbett aims to end this practice.

Equality Forum, a national and international LGBT civil rights organization with an educational focus, is coordinating the suit. “Since the inception of the nation, almost all marriages sanctioned by one state have been accepted by all other states," says Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director of Equality Forum. “Failure by Pennsylvania to recognize a legal marriage denigrates Cara, Isabelle and their son and denies them important family protections and benefits.”

Michael Banks and Eric Kraeutler, partners, Morgan Lewis & Bockius, serve as lead counsel. Morgan Lewis & Bockius is a law firm headquartered in Philadelphia with 24 offices worldwide and over 1,600 law professionals. Tiffany Palmer and Benjamin Jerner of Jerner & Palmer, P.C. serve as co-counsel. Jerner & Palmer, P.C. is a law firm focusing on LGBT family law and estate planning in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Link to Press Advisory (PDF)

Link to Press Release from September 26th, 2013 (PDF)

Link to Press Release from January 13th, 2014 (PDF)

Gavin Newsom, California Lt. Governor
Gavin Newsom
Lt. Governor




“I want to thank the plaintiffs, Cara Palladino and Isabelle Barker, for having the courage to bring this important action.  For more than 225 years, states have honored valid marriages entered into in other states – with rare exception. But even in those rare exceptions, most notably inter-racial marriages, the Supreme Court eventually held that states could not deny a valid marriage from another state. This summer, the Supreme Court finally recognized that same-sex couples should be treated equally under the law. Ideally every state would marry couples without regard to gender. But until that is the universal truth, we expect states to recognize legally valid marriages performed in California, regardless of that state’s position on same-sex marriage.”

– Gavin Newsom, California Lt. Governor

Malcolm Lazin
Executive Director
Equality Forum
Malcolm Lazin
Executive Director
Equality Forum
“Since the inception of the nation, almost all marriages sanctioned by one state have been accepted by all other states. Failure by Pennsylvania to recognize a legal marriage denigrates Cara, Isabelle and their son and denies them important family protections and benefits.”

– Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director Equality Forum

Michael BanksPartnerMorgan Lewis & Bockius
Michael Banks
Morgan Lewis & Bockius
Eric Kraeutler, Partner, Morgan Lewis & Bockius
Eric Kraeutler
Morgan Lewis & Bockius
“Given the importance of these constitutional issues and the impact on so many same-sex couples and children, we hope that the court will decide this case quickly so that the rights and dignity of all people in Pennsylvania will be respected.”

– Michael Banks, co-lead counsel

Tiffany Palmer, Partner, Jerner & Palmer
Tiffany Palmer
Jerner & Palmer
Benjamin Jerner, Partner, Jerner & Palmer
Benjamin Jerner
Jerner & Palmer


“Upon crossing the border into Pennsylvania, Cara and Isabelle’s marital status was stripped from them by Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  Pennsylvania’s DOMA took away from Cara and Isabelle monetary rights, property rights, tax exemptions, the right to make medical decisions for each other if they are sick or injured, among hundreds of other state and federal benefits.”

– Ben Jerner, partner at Jerner & Palmer, P.C.

Delaware Governor Jack A. Markell
Jack A. Markell
“When an opposite-sex couple is married in Delaware, other states historically have recognized the validity of that marriage.  Why should it be any different for same-sex couples?  When a same-sex couple is married under Delaware law, other states should recognize the validity of that marriage and afford that couple the fundamental rights and privileges to which they are entitled. Simply put, it’s a matter of fairness.”

– Delaware Governor Jack A. Markell

Associated Links:

Slate: The Most Ingenious Attack on Gay Marriage Bans By John Culhane

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