Jewish Teacher Strikes New Blow in Gay Marriage Fight — Eyes Supreme Court

Helena Miller Suit Could Prompt Same-Sex Nuptials Decision

Happily Married: Helena Miller and Dara Raspberry celebrate their wedding in 2010. They are fighting to force Pennsylvania to recognize their union.
courtesy of aclu
Happily Married: Helena Miller and Dara Raspberry celebrate their wedding in 2010. They are fighting to force Pennsylvania to recognize their union.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published July 09, 2013, issue of July 12, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

A Jewish school teacher from Philadelphia is a face of a new landmark lawsuit that could prompt a Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing same-sex marriage rights nationwide.

Helena Miller, a lesbian whose wife is not recognized as a parent of their baby daughter, is one of more than 20 plaintiffs in a landmark federal lawsuit filed July 9 challenging a law that bans same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania.

The law also bars the state from recognizing such unions performed elsewhere, a provision that directly affects Miller and her family.

“We would really like for our child, when she’s old enough to understand what these things all mean, we want her to understand and see that our family is equal to any other family,” Miller told the Forward.

Dara Raspberry and Helena Miller hold their newborn baby, Zivah.
Dara Raspberry and Helena Miller hold their newborn baby, Zivah.

The new lawsuit, filed jointly by the American Civil Liberties Union and a Philadelphia law firm, is on the cutting edge of an aggressive new legal strategy aimed at pushing the U.S. Supreme Court to guarantee marriage equality across the country.

“I think you’re looking at a case with potentially very broad national implications,” said Mark Aronchick, the pro-bono Philadelphia lawyer bringing the case, an attorney with Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller. “If there was ever a reason why I became a lawyer, its because of cases like this. It’s because of the ability to move everything along, move justice along, move freedoms along.”

The new suit is the first federal case to challenge any state law barring same-sex marriage since the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling making same-sex couples eligible for federal benefits.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.