Supporters of equal marriage in the US state of Pennsylvania have launched a campaign to legalise it.

News conferences are scheduled for Wednesday in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to support the Why Marriage Matters campaign, which is sponsored by the Freedom to Marry equal marriage advocacy group and the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.

The aim of the campaign, according to the president of Freedom to Marry, Evan Wolfson, is to encourage “neighbour to neighbour” conversations about why marriage is important for same-sex couples and their families.

There are several challenges to a state ban in Pennsylvania on equal marriage which was implemented in 1996.

One lawsuit in the US state of Pennsylvania challenging the state’s ban on equal marriage is to be given a June trial date, it was announced last month.

Judge Jones last month ruled that the state of Pennsylvania must defend the ban, despite assertions by the state that his court had no authority to rule in the case.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), was struck down by the US Supreme Court in June, however Pennsylvania law defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

The plaintiffs in the case argue that the law violates constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. They incllude a widow, 11 couples and one couple’s two teenage daughters.

A 1996 state law defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The judge overseeing a challenge to Pennsylvania’s ban on equal marriage, last month paused before setting a trial date in the case.

US District Judge John Jones III said he needed time to consider and rule on pre-trial motions, before setting a date for a hearing