Well said, your honor: A federal judge in Pennsylvania — one John E. Jones III of the Federal District Court in Harrisburg, to be precise — did away with the state’s ban on same-sex marriage on Tuesday, declaring it unconstitutional with an eloquent flourish.

“We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history,” Jones wrote, effectively lifting the blockade and giving hopeful couples the go-ahead that same day (per The New York Times):

Judge Jones, who is based in Harrisburg, Pa., was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2002.

Judge Jones did not issue a stay, writing, “By virtue of this ruling, same-sex couples who seek to marry in Pennsylvania may do so, and already married same-sex couples will be recognized as such in the Commonwealth.”

Pennsylvania is the last of the Northeast states with a ban on same-sex marriage. Gov. Tom Corbett did not immediately say whether he would ask the Federal Circuit Court in Philadalphia to delay enforcement pending an appeal, and gay rights advocates said they hoped that marriages would start as early as Tuesday afternoon.

Judge Jones also underscored in his ruling that “all couples deserve equal dignity in the realm of civil marriage.”

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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