The Governor of Pennsylvania has announced he will not appeal a ruling striking down the state’s marriage ban, cementing same-sex marriage as law.

US District Judge John Jones yesterday struck down the ruling, writing: “We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”

Under state law, all marriages require a three day notice period, with the first same-sex weddings to be held this weekend.

There had been fears that the state’s Republican governor Tom Corbett would appeal the ruling, with appeals courts likely to put the ban back in place until the conclusion of the appeal, but he has now announced that he will not do so.

He wrote: “I have thoroughly reviewed Judge Jones’ opinion in the Whitewood case.

“Given the high legal threshold set forth by Judge Jones in this case, the case is extremely unlikely to succeed on appeal.

“Therefore, after review of the opinion and on the advice of my Commonwealth legal team, I have decided not to appeal Judge Jones’ decision.

“As a Roman Catholic, the traditional teaching of my faith has not wavered. I continue to maintain the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.

“My duties as Governor require that I follow the laws as interpreted by the Courts and make a judgment as to the likelihood of a successful appeal.

“It is my hope that as the important issue of same-sex relationships continues to be addressed in our society, that all involved be treated with respect.”

Corbett’s decision not to appeal cements same-sex marriage as state law, as Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane also declined to defend the ban.

Judge John Jones was warmly endorsed by notoriously anti-gay Republican Rick Santorum when he was appointed a judge in 2002.

Last week, same-sex marriage was legal in 17 states plus the District of Columbia.

However, following rulings this week in Pennsylvania and Oregon, where the state refused to fight against same-sex marriage, it is now legal in 19, including all of the West Coast and all of the North East.