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.
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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.


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