Lehigh Valley

Local couple seeking marriage equality considers suing Pa.

Local couple seeking marriage equality considers suing Pa.

EASTON, Pa. - Some gay rights groups say there's still a lot of work to be done in the wake of a major ruling last week by the U.S. Supreme Court.

That ruling, in part, granted some federal benefits to same sex couples in states that allow gay marriage. Some local groups say the ruling didn't go far enough.

Gay and lesbian groups say it's about civil rights, marriage equality and anti-discrimination.

Tim Hare and Earl Ball have been together for 37 years.

"Love at first sight. We have been together ever since," said Hare.

The couple was married in Canada and New York, but has called Easton home for most of the relationship.

But after last week's Supreme Court ruling striking down California's same sex marriage ban and granting some federal benefits in states that recognize gay marriage, Hare and Ball, like many other local gay and lesbian couples, are considering their future here or in states that recognize their marriage.

"We thought, 'Do we flee and run and just destroy our lives here or do we fight to get Pennsylvania on board with full marriage equality?'" said Hare.

The couple is talking about suing the state of Pennsylvania in federal court, possibly with other local residents.

While the outcome is uncertain, Adrian Shanker, president of Equality Pennsylvania, said, despite the fact the Supreme Court's ruling did not directly impact Pennsylvania, it did provide federal rights to many Pennsylvanians.

"If you are a binational, same sex couple living in Pennsylvania and you are legally married in one of the 13 states or Washington, D.C., you can apply for a green card for your spouse. And if you are a federal employee who lives in Pennsylvania, even if you work in Pennsylvania, if you are legally married in a state that recognizes, it you will be eligible for federal employee benefits," said Shanker.

Shanker said legislators are also taking on the issue of gay and lesbian civil rights.

"House Bill, Senate Bill 300, would end legal discrimination against LGBT Pennsylvanians," Shanker said.

Allentown, Easton and Bethlehem are among the 32 Pennsylvania municipalities that already make it illegal to fire someone, deny them housing or remove them from public accommodation because they are gay or lesbian.

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