Case: Ballen v. Corbett

13-00481 | Pennsylvania state trial court

Filed Date: Sept. 25, 2013

Closed Date: 2014

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On September 25, 2013, twenty-two same-sex couples filed this lawsuit in Pennsylvania state court under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause and Equal Rights Amendment of the Pennsylvania State Constitution. The same-sex couples, all represented by private counsel, sued the state of Pennsylvania, requesting that the Court declare their marriages valid, invalidate provisions of the state constitution banning same sex-marriages…

On September 25, 2013, twenty-two same-sex couples filed this lawsuit in Pennsylvania state court under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause and Equal Rights Amendment of the Pennsylvania State Constitution. The same-sex couples, all represented by private counsel, sued the state of Pennsylvania, requesting that the Court declare their marriages valid, invalidate provisions of the state constitution banning same sex-marriages, and enjoin the state from enforcing these provisions.

On June 26, 2013, three months before this lawsuit, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act as an affront to the Equal Protection rights of same-sex couples. United States v. Windsor, 133 S.Ct. 2675. Pennsylvania Attorney General Kane, charged with defending and enforcing the Pennsylvania Marriage Law, then announced that she believed that the Marriage Law was "wholly unconstitutional." On July 23, 2013, the Montgomery County, PA, clerk began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

At this point, the Governor, acting through his General Counsel, filed a petition for mandamus in state court to stop the clerk from issuing marriage licenses. The state also argued that the same-sex couples' marriage licenses were invalid. On September 12, 2013, a state trial judge (Judge Dan Pelligrini) granted the petition. Directly following this ruling, the plaintiffs in this case filed this lawsuit, also in state court. (They filed directly in the "Commonwealth Court" -- which is usually an appellate rather than trial court, because the case was against the state.)

We don't have much information on what happened in the Commonwealth Court; only the docket is available, without other documents. However, several months earlier, a federal case had been brought challenging Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage. See Whitehood v. Wolf, PB-PA-0012 in this Clearinghouse. In that case, on May 20, 2014, the federal district court struck down the marriage ban. In light of the Whitehood ruling, the parties signed a settlement agreement on September 30, 2014, under which the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recognized the plaintiffs as legally married as of May 20, 2014.

Summary Authors

Katherine Reineck (3/13/2015)

Beth Richardson (7/24/2015)

Related Cases

Whitewood v. Corbett, Middle District of Pennsylvania (2013)

People


Judge(s)

Pellegrini, Dante (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Barry, Joanna L. (Pennsylvania)

Cohen, David Samuel (Pennsylvania)

Heim, Robert C. (Pennsylvania)

Hopkins, Nathaniel T. (Pennsylvania)

McEnroe, William T. (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Frank, Joel L. (Pennsylvania)

Giunta, M. Abbegael (Pennsylvania)

Lamb, William H. (Pennsylvania)

Miner, Audrey F. (Pennsylvania)

Judge(s)

Pellegrini, Dante (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Barry, Joanna L. (Pennsylvania)

Cohen, David Samuel (Pennsylvania)

Heim, Robert C. (Pennsylvania)

Hopkins, Nathaniel T. (Pennsylvania)

McEnroe, William T. (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Frank, Joel L. (Pennsylvania)

Giunta, M. Abbegael (Pennsylvania)

Lamb, William H. (Pennsylvania)

Miner, Audrey F. (Pennsylvania)

Neuhauser, Gregory R. (Pennsylvania)

Taylor, Alison (Pennsylvania)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Bilus, Alexander R. (Pennsylvania)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

Pennsylvania state appellate court

Feb. 11, 2015 Docket

Complaint

Sept. 26, 2013 Complaint

Amended Complaint

Nov. 8, 2013 Complaint

Stipulation for Settlement and Dismissal

Ballen v. Wolf

Sept. 30, 2014 Settlement Agreement

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: Pennsylvania

Case Type(s):

Public Benefits/Government Services

Special Collection(s):

Same-Sex Marriage

Key Dates

Filing Date: Sept. 25, 2013

Closing Date: 2014

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Twenty-two same-sex couples issued marriage licenses by a Pennsylvania county clerk, requesting that their marriages be legally recognized by Pennsylvania.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Equal Protection

Due Process

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 2014 - 0

Content of Injunction:

Discrimination Prohibition

Issues

General:

Gay/lesbian/transgender

Marriage

Discrimination-basis:

Sexual orientatation