Armed with Justice Anthony Kennedy’s decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, lawyers representing same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania on Tuesday (July 9), and vowed to follow with others in North Carolina and Virginia.
Those cases will be added to at least 11 pending from New Jersey to Hawaii.
“There are a lot of cases out there,” said James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT & AIDS Project, which filed the Pennsylvania challenge. “It’s quite clear to me that this issue is headed back to the U.S. Supreme Court and is likely to get there sometime over the next several years.”
On Thursday, Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Kathleen Kane, said she would not defend the state against a lawsuit to overturn a ban on same-sex marriage, following in the footsteps of attorneys general in Illinois and California who also declined to defend their states in similar cases.
The flurry of activity is prompted in part by what gay-rights groups see as the long-term implications of Kennedy’s ruling. If federal benefits cannot be denied legally married same-sex couples, they say, states ultimately cannot deny gays and lesbians the right to marry.
The legal and legislative efforts are welcomed by opponents of same-sex marriage, who worry that the high court’s ruling has left lower courts in limbo.