This afternoon in Pennsylvania, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III overturned a 1996 ban on gay marriage, stating that "we are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history."

The Associated Press was in Philadelphia to report on the first administered marriage licenses.

"We didn't want to take the chance of having this be challenged, and missing out on our opportunity," said [Joe] Parisi, 30, of Philadelphia, who plans to marry 28-year-old Steven Seminelli. They were among the first to get a license Tuesday afternoon, just hours after Jones' ruling.

If Jones' decision stands, Pennsylvania will be the 19th state to legalize gay marriage. The judge, a Republican, appears to be quite a reasonable guy.

Jones, a Republican and an appointee of former President George W. Bush, was previously known for a 2005 decision in which he barred a Pennsylvania school district from teaching "intelligent design" in biology class, saying it was "a mere re-labeling of creationism."

The Pennsylvania Family Institute, among the state's biggest Republican leaders, were not happy.

"What Judge Jones has done is extralegal, going beyond what the law or the constitution requires, (and) ... immediately undermines the Democratic process," said the institute's president, Michael Geer.

Pennsylvania's governor, Republican Tom Corbett, has not announced if he will seek to appeal the ruling.

Congrats to all the newlyweds!

[Image via AP]