ACLU’s FAQs about Whitewood v. Wolf Win


About Whitewolf v. Wolf Decision

On May 20, 2014, Judge Jones ruled in favor of the plaintiffs inWhitewood v. Wolf, striking down Pennsylvania’s law against marriage for same-sex couples. His order directs the commonwealth to allow same-sex couples to marry and to recognize valid out-of-state marriages.

Is Judge Jones’ ruling final? Is the Whitewood case over now?

Not necessarily. The commonwealth has 30 days from May 20, 2014, to decide whether to appeal. The ACLU is urging the commonwealth not to appeal. Go to to find out how you can join in urging the commonwealth to stop defending this unconstitutional law.

When can my same-sex partner and I get married?

You can apply for a marriage license immediately. In Pennsylvania, the first step to getting married is for the couple to show up in person at a Register of Wills/Orphans Court in any county to submit a marriage license application. Under Pennsylvania law, there is a three-day waiting period after the application is submitted before the Register of Wills can issue a marriage license. The three-day waiting period includes weekends, so couples who apply on a Thursday or Friday will receive a marriage license on Monday. Marriage licenses can be mailed or picked up in person.

Is it possible to get a waiver of the three-day waiting period for a marriage license?

You can ask a judge to grant you a waiver if there are exceptional circumstances that make it urgent for you to get married right away. The Registers of Wills who issue marriage licenses cannot waive the waiting period on his or her own; only a court can do this.

My same-sex partner and I got married after we got a marriage license from Montgomery County, PA, in 2013. Does the Whitewood win mean that Pennsylvania will recognize my marriage now?

There is separate litigation ongoing in state court to determine the legal status of these marriages. In some other states where marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples before a court struck down the state’s exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, these marriage licenses were invalidated. It is not yet clear how Pennsylvania will treat the marriage licenses issued by Montgomery County in 2013. But if your marriage is ultimately invalidated, you should be able to reapply for a marriage license in Pennsylvania.