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!
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • 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.