Rainbow Law has a document package designed to protect same-sex partners in Pennsylvania. We offer 9 unique Affordable Document Packages, Individual Legal Documents and FREE Advance Directives to help protect your rights and the rights of your family. To order a legal document package that complies with Pennsylvania law, hover your mouse over the “Buy A Package” link in the top menu and click on the package that best suits your needs in the drop-down list. If you’re not sure what package is right for you, click this link and we’ll help you figure out what you need.
Although the US Supreme Court has held that the federal government cannot discriminate against gay and lesbian couples legally married and living in a state that recognizes that marriage, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) couples living in Pennsylvania are not legally recognized as spouses even if they were married in a marriage equality state or country.
Here is a run-down on Pennsylvania law affecting the LGBTQ community:
1 Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships: Pennsylvania is the only Northeastern state without same-sex marriage. The state does not recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships, although attempts have been made in recent years to allow for such unions. Several measures that would block such legislation, such as amending the State Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage have also been attempted.
Philadelphia offers a domestic partnership registry to residents of the city or couples with at least one partner employed by the city. Pittsburgh provides for domestic partnerships, which have no residency requirement and are limited to same-sex couples.
On July 9, 2013, ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court, Whitewood v. Corbett, challenging the Pennsylvania statute that bans same-sex marriage. On July 11, 2013, Attorney General Kathleen Kane said she would refuse to defend the stature, and Governor Tom Corbett, the other named defendant, has declined to comment on the case. On November 16, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones in Harrisburg rejected motions by two of Gov. Tom Corbett’s cabinet secretaries and the Bucks County register of wills to end the suit filed by the 10 same-sex couples, allowing both sides to begin assembling evidence for a trial in 2014.
2 Adoption Law: Pennsylvania allows a single person to adopt without respect to sexual orientation. Until 2002, Pennsylvania did not permit second-parent adoption by a person of the same sex. A 6-0 ruling by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania established the right of same-sex couples to second-parent adoptions. No statute prohibits a same-sex couple from adopting a child jointly.
3 Anti-Discrimination Law: There is no statewide law protecting LGBT individuals from workplace discrimination. But, in 1975, Pennsylvania became the first US state to enact an executive order for discrimination protection of sexual orientation in state employment.In 2003, gender identity was added to this executive order and the order has been reissued by every following governor. As of 2013, a bill is pending before the Pennsylvania General Assembly that would protect LGBT people statewide from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Many Pennsylvania municipalities and counties, including the five most populated cities, already enacted ordinances implementing such discrimination protections.
Pennsylvania passed an hate crime law in 2002 that covered LGBT people, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck it down in 2008 on a technicality: legislators inserted the language into an unrelated bill on agricultural terrorism, changing that bill’s purpose during the legislative process, which violates the Pennsylvania Constitution. Legislation was introduced in March 2009 to reinstate the law, but it did not make it out of committee.
4 Sodomy Law: Pennsylvania has repealed its sodomy statutes incrementally. In 1972, legislation legalized consensual sodomy for heterosexual married couples. In 1980, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruling in Commonwealth v. Bonadio found Pennsylvania’s sodomy law unconstitutional as violating the equal protection guarantees of both the state and federal constitutions. Pennsylvania repealed its remaining sodomy laws in 1995.
5Gender Identity: Sex and gender changes are legal in the state.
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