A federal judge struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage Tuesday afternoon.
Judge John Jones III ruled in favor of 23 Pennsylvania residents who challenged the state's 1996 Defense of Marriage Act by filing a suit with the support of the American Civil Liberties Union.
"The issue we resolve today is a divisive one," Jones said. "Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional."
In declaring Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, the judge did not, however, issue a stay of his own ruling, meaning it will go into effect immediately. The decision can and likely will be challenged in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
With the addition of Pennsylvania, 44 percent of the nation's population lives in a state that permits gay and lesbian couples to marry. Pennsylvania was the last remaining state in the Northeast to outlaw gay marriage.