Easton Couple Battling PA's Same Sex Marriage Ban

Timothy Hare and Earl Ball say DOMA ruling gave them a key to bring marriage equality to Pennsylvania.

Earl Ball (left) and Tim Hare at home in Easton. The couple is looking for plaintiffs for a legal challenge to Pennsylvania's same sex marriage ban.
Earl Ball (left) and Tim Hare at home in Easton. The couple is looking for plaintiffs for a legal challenge to Pennsylvania's same sex marriage ban.
It's been a week since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, but Tim Hare and Earl Ball aren't celebrating.

Instead, this Easton couple is angry, and looking to continue the fight for same sex marriage in Pennsylvania.

The two West Ward residents have been together since 1976, and got married in Canada in 2003. But to them, the court's decision on DOMA last week didn't go far enough, because it didn't allow for same sex marriage in all 50 states. 

In the eyes of Pennsylvania law, they can't marry. That means the DOMA ruling—which gives legally married same sex couples the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples—doesn't apply to them.

And that left Ball and Hare, both 66, with a choice: leave a city they love for a state that allows same sex marriage, or stay and fight.

"They placed a burden on us," Ball said Wednesday, sitting in the couple's West Ward living room. "Either we move, or we stay and fight and live long enough to see it change."

For now, they appear to have chose the second option. Hare said that while the DOMA ruling wasn't a victory—he likened it to the Dred Scott Decision— it does give them a key to fight Pennsylvania's same sex marriage ban in a lower court.

He and Ball are looking for plaintiffs for a possible lawsuit to overturn a 1996 Pennsylvania law that bans same sex marriage in the state.

The fight is happening on other fronts as well. Last week, state Reps. Brian Sims and Steve McCarter introduced a marriage equality bill in the state house.

And Hare says he's heard from people in other states—both heterosexual and otherwise—who are backing him.

It's been a tough week for the couple, as they went back and forth on the question of fighting or moving, possibly to New York.

"We haven't been this divided...ever," Hare said. 
They have deep roots in Easton. Ball helped craft with the city's anti-discrimination ordinance in 2006. Hare fought to save landmark city buildings like the Quadrant from the demolition in the 1970s.

Hare said he fell for the city on a stop-over on the way to Harrisburg and counted seven interracial couples between the toll bridge and the bus station. 

"I thought 'This must be some kind of live-and-let-live Mecca,'" he said.

And for the most part, it has been. Most of the flack they've gotten about their possible lawsuit has come from "within our tribe," Hare said. Questions like "Why not just wait and let this play itself out?"

"Well, because I've been waiting 66 years," Hare said. 

Lynn July 04, 2013 at 12:35 PM
Don't know Earl, That hyphenated name sort of gets stuck in my throat! ( sign us up ! ) Your cowriters- Lynn & Audrey
Elizabeth July 04, 2013 at 01:15 PM
haha! See a good sense of humor is important in a relationship and in life. :) Lots of Love, and All the Best, Liz (PS *warning cheap plug* speaking of sense of humor, come to the Easton comedy show July 19th, 8pm, free, Riverside Park)
Moving forward July 04, 2013 at 08:20 PM
Keep up the fight... That's how doma got overturned! Hopefully Pennsylvania eventually accepts domestic partnership as well, not only New York.
Keith Pullman July 05, 2013 at 12:18 PM
There is no good reason to deny that we must keep evolving until an adult, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, monogamy or polyamory, race, or religion is free to marry any and all consenting adults. The limited same-gender freedom to marry is a great and historic step, but is NOT full marriage equality, because equality "just for some" is not equality. Let's stand up for EVERY ADULT'S right to marry the person(s) they love. Get on the right side of history!
Gramma24 July 10, 2013 at 05:10 PM
You guys rock!!! Proof in the pudding that same-sex relationships are not disposible!!! Here's hoping for another 66 years!!!


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