Philadelphia same-sex couple files motion demanding decision on state recognizing their marriage

Gay marriage philadelphia demonstration
A demonstration for gay marriage rights. Credit: Metro file photo

Cara Palladino and Isabelle Barker were married in 2005 in Massachusetts, when it was the only state that recognized gay marriages.

But now they reside in Philadelphia, a state where their marriage is not legally recognized.

They intend to change that.

“While you can be married in 17 states and the District of Columbia, in 30 of the states that marriage is not recognized,” said Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director of Equality Forum, which supports Barker and Palladino. “Therefore, legally married same-sex couples are treated in a prejudicial way, and certainly contrary to the entire history of the nation, where we’ve always accepted the marriages of sister states and foreign nations.”

Barker and Palladino both work at Bryn Mawr College and reside in Philadelphia.

They first filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Kathleen Kane and Gov. Tom Corbett in September asking the state to recognize their marriage.

Today, they filed a motion for summary judgment in the suit, asking that a judge skip the facts in between and decide the case now.

The suit was in part inspired by U.S. v. Windsor, a case which ended in June with a Supreme Court decision that found the term “spouse” and “marriage” did not only apply to heterosexual pairings.

On the grounds of that decision, Barker and Palladino believe that it is unconstitutional for the state of Pennsylvania to refuse to recognize gay marriages as legally sound.

They also claim they are being denied about 670 state marital benefits, such as the right to file a joint tax return, and 1,138 federal marital benefits.

“There’s some really basic, human aspects to this,” Lazin said. “Roughly five years ago, Isabelle had their son. Under family law across the country its assumed that a child born within wedlock is the child of both parents. Here, Pennsylvania law does not assume that. So they had to go through what is called second child adoption.”

A decision on the summary judgment motion will likely not be returned for a few months.

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Follow Sam Newhouse on Twitter: @scnewhouse

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