Gay marriage at a standstill in Pennsylvania

As states in the Northeast legalize gay marriage, Pennsylvania remains stagnate in the push for equality  among the GLBT community.
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As many states in the Northeast, most recently New York, take the final step in legalizing gay marriage, it seems Pennsylvania is lagging behind in the tremendously overdue fight for equal rights in the GLBT community. As the stale argument continues that marriage is a sacred act between man and woman, Pennsylvania residents need to team up to tear down the discrimination.

The majority of my friends identify as members of the GLBT community, and it is not only upsetting, but sickening to know that they are not afforded the same rights as me. It seems obvious that two people, regardless of their sex, race or religion should be able to recognize their relationship, which in theory could not hurt or negatively affect anyone outside of that partnership.

“I think that marriage is an important expression of dignity that all people should have access to,” said Dr. Margaux Cowden, advising coordinator for the GLBT studies minor at Temple.

Cowden explains that material and financial benefits are also added on to the personal benefits a state can provide in recognizing gay unions. Cowden added that the diverse population of people in Pennsylvania makes it difficult to come to a final decision about the legalization of gay marriage.

Yet, it’s not just a matter of conservative vs. liberal viewpoints, but rather an outright attempt to deny an entire group of the population’s right to legally declare their love for one another due to a fear of the unfamiliar.

“Homophobia and heterosexism are forces that are much bigger than marriage,” Cowden said. “Marriage is not going to fix the diffuse set of problems that work together to produce homophobia.”

While it is true the GLBT population faces intolerance, bullying and an abundance of tough obstacles to overcome, it’s about time Pennsylvania gives them a break by setting an example of acceptance for its residents. One piece of legislation cannot wipe out the bigotry embedded in our country’s outlook on sexuality, but it can encourage a more accepting way of thinking.

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Over the summer, surrounding states have legalized gay marriage and/or civil union, but Pennsylvania still remains strongly opposed to it. In fact, The Pennsylvania House passed a gay marriage ban.

I would like to remain positive that Pennsylvania will soon follow suit, however it is vital GLBT members and supporters stand up and continue to fight for gay rights in general.

“The more [GLBT] people are out, and are in dialogue with the rest of the community, the more that we can begin to dispel people’s fears and really break down some of the conflict that exists around this particular issue,” Cowden said.

I recently attended the GLBT Pride Parade and Festival in Philadelphia, and while it was incredible to see so much encouragement for the community, I think we can do better. We need to all ban together to show the rest of Pennsylvania how important equality is for the state.

Cowden suggested getting in touch with representatives, signing petitions, voting and supporting gay-marriage Senate Bill 461, which according to a June Philadelphia Weekly article “PA at Embarrassing Standstill on Gay Marriage,” was introduced by state Sen. Daylin Leach (D-17) and has been sitting in committee since February 2011.

Now more than ever, Pennsylvania needs to hop on the same-sex bandwagon, partner up with the more progressive Northeastern states and step forward for gay rights. Let’s set an example for our country instead of accepting the inequality.

Cary Carr can be reached at cary.carr@temple.edu.

10 Comments

  1. I am from the state of Pennsylvania. I am an 18 LGBT teen. I know my state the state of Pennsylvania will not be voting on anything like this anytime soon at all in the state. In fact, the state could very easily pass a marriage amendment or could try for Civil Unions. Bills have come and gone over the last 4 years. Maybe it is best to keep it the way it is and have both sides happy for a little bit of time. The reason why a marriage amendment is needed is because The Pennsylvania Supreme Court could make Same-Sex Marriage legal in the state. This is more likely to happen because of New York passing their legislation. A Pennsylvanian couple could go over the border of the state line and than bring the issue up. I am a Democrat and I do support Same-Sex Marriage in Pennsylvania and the other 44 states that don’t have it.

  2. we need to look further within those 44 states where its prohibited how many in terms of the remaining states how many democratic governors favor the idea in their home states vs those on the rep ticket who would support the idea too vs governors who are opposed to gay lesbian marriage in both parties to take neccessary actions excluding governor corbett we already know hes totally opposed to that but in the 43 states need reverse the tide further im in support of same sex marriage to prevent out lawing interracial marriage government should only define marriage as monogamous between 2 people only obviously we need to vote out all senate and house incumbents because no one democrat won in pa last novs election somethings not right.

  3. “The majority of my friends identify as members of the GLBT community …”

    Sounds like you need some new friends!!

  4. SC Guy-nope-gay and lesbian people are actually the kindest, most open minded folk around-because they suffer from inequality-it makes them stronger and better as people. I wouldnt trade 1 gay friend for ten bigoted religious controlled sheep ever

  5. PA, excewpt for the metropolitan areas is a hotbed of bigotry pushed by the AFA, hq in Mississippi. they have people in most of the smaller cities and towns who arrogantly push their agenda of hate and bigotry wall screaming Jesus Jesus etc.

    I only wish that hell was real. Because if it was we could hear the construction work as more space was made to roast them for eternity.

    Right wing xtians – the people who gave us slavery , the kkk,a nd then segregaton – they always need someone to hate because the pastors rile up their people to keep the collection plate full.

    its all bout profits and wealth.

    Pat Robinson – he said the Hatains deserved the terrible earthquake. (because lots of them were not xtian) Meanwhile he rides around in private leased jets, has a very expensive antique car collection, and owns many houses, kind of like McCain who didnt know how many he owned.

    Right wing religion is the curse of america. the same religious culture that gave us slavery, the kkk, segregation and also bans in most states on inter-racial marriage until 1967. Of course then they were “protecting the sanctity of the white race’ (sound familiar?)

  6. “Six of the eight states where 50 percent or more of the public supports gay marriage are the states with the highest proportion of Catholics, ranging from Rhode Island at 46 percent to New York and California at 37 percent. Meanwhile, the eight states most opposed to gay marriage include six of the seven with the lowest proportion of Catholics, from Alabama at six percent to North Carolina at nine percent. In other words, support for same-sex marriage is directly proportional to the percentage of Catholics in a given state”

    • 85% of Mississippi voters amend state constitution in 2001
    • 76% of Texas voters pass Proposition 2
    • 71.6% of Kentucky voters amend state constitution
    • 70% of Nebraska voters amend state constitution with Initiative 416
    • 69.4% of Nevada voters amend state constitution
    • 68% of Alaska’s voters amend state constitution
    • 66% of Hawaii legislators amend state constitution, 69% of voters endorsed that amendment
    • 61.4% of California voters pass Proposition 22 on March 7, 2000, then again 53% pass Proposition 8 in November 2009
    • 57% of Oregon voters reject the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and amend their state constitution
    • 53.4% of Colorado Voters amend state constitution on November 3, 1993
    • Oklahoman voters made it a crime for a public official to issue gay marriage licenses
    • FEDERAL DOMA law passed on September 21, 1996 ends gay marriage
    • “Voters in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah all approved anti-same-sex marriage amendments by double-digit margins”, per CNN
    • “Focus On the Family” reported that 35 states had already passed DOMA laws prior to California voters passing Proposition 8 in a landslide victory, making that 36 states
    • Voters in Maine and Washington reject their legislator’s initiatives to recognize gay marriage
    • 40% of Canadian voters want to recognize gay marriage
    • Seven states have laws that define marriage as a legal union between a man and woman, deny recognition of same-sex marriages solemnized in other states, and make same-sex marriage a violation of public policy. These states are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Missouri
    • Six states define marriage as a union between a man and woman and deny recognition of same-sex marriages solemnized in other states. These states are Alaska, Florida, Indiana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and West Virginia
    • Four states deny recognition of same-sex marriages solemnized in other states and make such marriages a violation of public policy. These states are Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, and South Carolina
    • Three states-Colorado, Kansas, and Tennessee-define marriage as a legal union between a man and women and make same-sex marriage a violation of public policy
    • The 15 remaining states have laws that contain only one provision rather than a combination of those discussed above
    • Only three of the 37 DOMA states use the federal definition of a “spouse” as a member of the opposite sex who is legally married as husband or wife. These states are Florida, North Dakota, and Texas

    http://www.cga.ct.gov/2002/olrdata/jud/rpt/2002-R-0957.htm

    The three justices (Ternus, Baker, and Streit) who ruled against we the people of Iowa in their overwhelming public mandate to outlaw gay marriage were just removed by we the people of Iowa, just as we the people of California will soon remove Judge Roberts who ruled against TWO overwhelming public mandates from us.

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/nation/2865160,CST-NWS-gay04.article

    The only explanation for why gay marriage APPEARS to be gaining acceptance is that women voters are one third more likely to accept them than men voters:

    http://people-press.org/report/662/same-sex-marriage

  7. I really don’t understand how anyone could justify refusing homosexual marriage. It makes no logical sense to me. I’m heterosexual, but I would fight tooth and nail to make sure everyone had the same rights. It’s honestly the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard, that Pennsylvania didn’t pass the law permitting marriage between two consenting adults as soon as it was put out. What’s wrong with the people we elected, that they can’t recognize the idiocy that is homophobia? They claim they’re for equal rights, but obviously, they aren’t really.

  8. Pennsylvania is gradually finding itself surrounded by varying levels of equality. New York State to the north with marriage equality, New Jersey to the east with civil unions that may or may not turn into marriage equality this year, Delaware to the southeast with civil unions law as of January 1, 2011, Maryland to the south with limit domestic partnership law.
    Marylanders are going to try to get Maryland marriage equality this year.

    If MD gets marriage equality, then Maryland will have marriage equality handy to MD, VA, WV, PA gay couples and will bring marriage equality closer to the southern region of Ohio via northern WV or southern PA.
    And New York State made marriage equality handy to northeastern Ohio via the tiny bit of PA along the coastal region of Lake Erie.

    If Illinois got marriage equality in 2013, then that would help Indiana and western Ohio gay couples and gay rights activists from southern Illinois could maybe help defend marriage equality in Iowa if need be.

    It would also help if PA voted right-winger PA Governor Corbett out of office come election time and elected a PA governor who cares about education, marriage equality, saving the environment, etc.
    The US states surrounding PA will be acquiring marriage equality eventually, so PA should have time to be getting used to having marriage equality at its doorstep.

    Prediction: marriage equality in NJ this year or next, in MD this year or more likely next, CA regaining it hopefully this year or maybe by 2014 by popular vote overturning Prop 8, Washington State this year, maybe Maine this year or next, maybe Minnesota this year or next, NH marriage equality defended this year already the repeal vote in NH has been delayed from January into February, etc.
    If marriage equality succeeds in CA and WA, maybe NV will a couple more years down the road will exchange its domestic partnership law for marriage. If Maryland gets marriage and successfully beats back a NOM- threatened referendum for MD, then perhaps Delaware will exchange its civil unions for DE marriage equality by 2014 or 2015.

    Several countries may get marriage equality this year and each year up to 2015 the year UK may get marriage equality.
    Meanwhile marriage is likely in Denmark, Uruguay, maybe Chile which could go either civil unions or marriage route, Nepal upon the end of its constitutional rewrite (including gay rights such as marriage for gay couples in Nepal) as of current target of May 2012, Finland, Luxembourg, Colombia, etc. according WikiPedia’s listing of gay rights laws for each country of the world.

  9. I am a 16 year old straight female, but one of my closest friends identifies himself as a member of the GLBT community. I am totally supportive of this and at times it upsets me greatly that one day he may not be able to have the same rights and liberties as I do. As far as I am aware, nowhere in the constitution does it give outlines on what qualifies as a marriage. Also, some opponents of gay marriage base their views on religious beliefs. I have absolutely nothing against religion, but the united states in one of the few countries with a separation of church and state. This should weigh heavily in the minds of members of the pennsylvania government…. I hope that one day members of the GLBT can have the same rights as you and me.

  10. Good article.

    It’s really very unfortunate that things are the way they are honestly. Even though they seem to be heading in the right direction nationally, PA has been backwards since long before I was born in just about everything they do. Democrat or Republican, it does not matter, the state is just a mess.

    And though “separation of church and state” is more a policy in spirit than legislation, I do feel it plays a roll here. People love to argue the involvement of the church in marriage, thus making the view of the church “relevant”, but realistically “marriage” is a legal term and as such should not be denied anyone. I don’t think anyone from the GLBT community would much care if they couldn’t get married in a church because the church chose not to recognize it… All they want is for their government to recognize it and I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Love is love no matter who it is that you love.

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