Thomas Roberts   |  July 17, 2013

ACLU pushes Pennsylvania, others for marriage equality

Just weeks after the nation’s highest court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and cleared the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California, new lawsuits are being filed against states that ban same-sex marriage—including one in Pennsylvania, where the ACLU is suing on behalf of 23 plaintiffs. James Esseks, director of the ACLU LGBT and AIDS Project, discusses.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> is now legal in britain. queen elizabeth ii officially gave her royal approval. her approval was the final step after a bill passed parliament yesterday.

>>> on this side of the atlantic, a battle is being fought in the states . after they ruled to strike down the defense of marriage act and allow same-sex marriages to resume in california , new lawsuits are being filed against states with bans, including one in pennsylvania where the aclu is suing on behalf of 23 plaintiffs. pennsylvania 's attorney general kathleen cane, a democrat, said she won't defend the ban which she calls wholly unconstitutional. joining me is james essex. he filed the challenge in pennsylvania . thank you for being here.

>> great to be here.

>> what is the pennsylvania 's attorney general position on same-sex marriage telling you about the impact this could have on your lawsuit?

>> well, to make one thing clear, so she's said she's not going to defend the constitution at on pennsylvania 's ban on marriage for gay people . she is enforcing the law. until the court has the final word, same-sex couples won't be able to hamarry. eric holder didn't defend the defense of marriage act for many reasons. the attorney general in california did the same thing and in illinois did the same thing. the list goes on. what we're seeing is not just increasing support by the people for the freedom to marry but also increasing recognition by the attorneys general of the states that these laws can't being defended.

>> you mentioned increasing support from the public. the aclu is moving forward in lawsuits in states like north carolina and virginia with more on the way from new jersey to hawaii. how much is this about momentum?

>> it is definitely a cents of momentum. just last november we were at six states plus the district of columbia that allowed same-sex couples the freedom to marry . now we're at 13 states . those changes happened at the ballot box last november where we got three more states . in state legislatures this spring where we got three more states and then in the court a couple weeks ago when the supreme court allowed the provente decision to stand for same-sex couples in california . as we're getting more states we're seeing an increase in public opinion . 58% of the united states supports that.

>> on the other side, there are far more states that have a restriction on same-sex marriage. how do you plan to counter that side of things?

>> part of the plan is litigation. the bigger part of the plan is we're going to state legislatures around the country. the targets are new jersey, illinois, hawaii where we think we have very good chances of freedom to marry bills in the state legislatures . then there are a bunch of state constitutions to exclude them and we'll go to voters in oregon and hopefully nevada as twoel ask them to amend the constitution.

>> the voters and some states have taken it. which do you think in terms of your fight and your goals, which do you think is the most effective strategy to take?

>> i think we need all the strategies. the legislatures have a role. the people have a role. we have to go and change the constitutions. the courts have a role there. the courts are there to enforce the constitution. the constitution is there. it's a promise to our self to the country about what equality meanings. the constitution is there to live up to the principles that we've agreed to. so we definitely need to work in the legislatures and ballot campaigns.

>> james essex, thank you for your time, sir.

>> thanks a lot.

>>> well, that wraps things up