Gov. Tom Corbett joins other Republican governors who dropped their defense of state marriage bans, including Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Chris Christie of New Jersey, and former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California.
Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said Corbett was doing the right thing by not appealing the ruling.
"Breaking down this dark wall of discrimination in the Keystone State strengthens our ever-growing momentum as we continue to expand the marriage equality map," Griffin said in a statement Wednesday. "Thanks to the hundreds of plaintiffs and attorneys across the country challenging these discriminatory marriage bans, its only a matter of time before a state border no longer dictates whether a loving couple can legally share in the joys of marriage."
Witold Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, and Mark Aronchick of law firm Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin and Schiller issued a joint statement praising Corbett's move.
"As the judge noted, we are a better people than the marriage ban and the governor's historic decision not to appeal will be an enduring legacy," said the lawyers, who represented the couples challenging the ban.
Same-sex couples have begun applying for marriage licenses in Pennsylvania, but the state mandates a three-day waiting period between application and ceremony for all couples, unless a judge grants a waiver. Pennsylvania is now the 19th state, plus the District of Columbia, to institute marriage equality. Now 44 percent of Americans live in a state with marriage equality, including Oregon, which also joined the fold this week. There are at least another 70 court cases challenging marriage bans in states across the country.