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!
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • 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.