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Same-sex marriage (SSM) In Pennsylvania

Part 7: Whitewood v. Wolf lawsuit:
More reactions to the legalization of
same-sex marriage; mostly negative.

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This topic is continued from a previous essay.

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thumb down image2014-MAY-20: More negative reactions (Cont'd):

  • The National Organization for Marriage has as its main goal the prevention of marriage by every same-sex couple in the U.S. They issued a press release on 2014-MAY-20:

    "The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today expressed disappointment at the outcome of a federal court case in Pennsylvania challenging that state's statutory definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. NOM condemned the decision in the case, issued by U.S. District Judge John E. Jones, III, which found Pennsylvania's marriage law unconstitutional, and the organization expressed its hope that Governor Corbett's administration would immediately appeal the ruling and seek a stay of the decision's effects."

    Brian Brown, NOM's President, wrote:

    "Pennsylvania voters have long sought, and been denied, the right to vote on the issue of marriage. This ruling adds insult to injury, as it leaves the citizens of Pennsylvania doubly disenfranchised"Members of the Pennsylvania legislature have been actively working for years to put this matter to the voters, which makes Judge Jones' cavalier decision even more brazen and unjust. The ruling unilaterally makes an end-run around the democratic process and places the capricious will of one man above the desires of millions of citizens. ..."

    We know from the stay granted in the case in Utah that the Supreme Court believes these matters should be thoroughly debated and legally argued, and that there is nothing ‘inevitable' about marriage redefinition. The administration owes it to the people of Pennsylvania to pursue this matter vigorously through the court system, and give marriage the defense it requires and deserves. This is especially true in Pennsylvania, where the people have already seen the insult of the Attorney General abandoning her oath of office and refusing to defend marriage. The administration stepped in to right that wrong in this case, and we urge them to continue to render justice by providing a defense of Pennsylvania's marriage laws." 1

  • The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference's spokesperson, Amy Hill, wrote:

    "By God's design, every child has a mother and a father. Circumstances may prevent a child from being raised by his or her own mother and father, so we stand in solidarity with single mothers and fathers who work responsibly each day to raise their children. However, marriage is the way society provides for children's needs. The redefinition of marriage enshrines in law a denial of the rights of children to a mother and a father united in marriage. ..."

    "No one should face unjust discrimination. But human experience, considerable social data, as well as our religious convictions, lead us to see clearly that children thrive best in a stable family grounded on the marital union of one man and one woman. Catholic opposition to same-sex marriage is not a statement about the worth of human beings who experience same-sex attraction, but a statement about the nature of marriage itself." 2,3

    Webmaster's comment (bias alert):

    What Ms. Hill seems to be saying is that when the state composes its marriage laws, it must give highest priority to the needs of the children. This is a worthy aim. The two most prevalent scenarios concerning same-sex couples in the U.S. are:

    1. Allow same-sex couples to marry: This would elevate the status of ther families in the community. The parents, and their children would be eligible for hundreds of state benefits and protections, as well as 1,138 federal benefits and protections. These are available to the parents and children only if the former are married and if the state recognizes the marriage.

    2. Refuse to allow loving, committed couples to marry: The state would not recognize the parents' relationship; they would be viewed only as "legal strangers" -- as roommates who happen to coexist in the same apartment or house. The children would be viewed as illegitimate and the parents as just "shacking up." The parents and their children would be denied all of the state and federal benefits and protections associated with marriage.

    Comparing the two alternatives, it would seem obvious that the children's needs would be best served by option 1: same-sex marriage. But Ms. Hill, who is representing the Roman Catholic Church is promoting Option 2. This has always been a mystery to me.

    Remarks by Alan Katz, who posted a comment to the Patriot News web site on MAY-20:

    "... In fact, decades of Social Science studies have demonstrated that children thrive equally well in both stable heterosexual and homosexual households. The only study that ever claimed otherwise is the debunked Regnerus study, financed by Mormon and Catholic organizations, which was thrown out of Federal Court in March as being 'unbelievable and not worthy of consideration'. They tried to hoodwink the courts (and now you) with fake science, and got caught. It is nothing less than stunning that this spokesperson for the Diocese has the nerve to voice these absolutely bogus claims, even when the author of the study and the religious groups that commissioned  the fake science have been thoroughly discredited. ..." 3

  • The American Family Association of Pennsylvania's president, Diane Gramley criticized Judge Jones:

    "He has overstepped his constitutional authority by usurping the General Assembly of its legislative power. ... The average Pennsylvanian fully understands marriage is only between one man and one woman and any other arrangement is not marriage. Homosexual activists have found allies in unelected federal judges who circumvent the will of the people. These judges are not answerable to the people for their decisions as the people have no say through the ballot box as to whether the judge stays or goes after such outrageous decisions. Unelected judges making laws from the bench are not what the Founding Fathers intended and that is fully outlined in the U.S. Constitution." 3

  • The Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason said:

    "The questions that face our commonwealth are best aired in the legislature with the representatives of the people. This complete disregard of the important roles held by each branch of government is just another reason why we need to elect principled people to office to uphold our Constitution." 3

  • Tim Murtaugh, spokesperson for Rep. Lou Barletta, (R) -- a Roman Catholic -- said:

    "The Congressman believes that marriage is between one man and one woman. He also believes that people in the states, through their elected representatives, ought to be able to define what marriage is." 3

Webmaster's note: The last three comments above are excellent examples of a belief common among religious and social conservatives who regard the U.S. as a pure democracy where the will of the public -- and the will of the lawmakers that they elect -- are the ultimate authority. However the U.S. Constitution itself and the vast majority of legal and constitutional experts view the U.S. as a constitutional democracy, in which the U.S. Constitution is the ultimate authority. This difference of opinion results in a massive gap between beliefs about how marriage laws should be written. More details

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thumb up image2014-MAY-21: Some positive reactions to the attainment of marriage equality in Pennsylvania:

  • The American Civil Liberties Union issued a press release, saying:

    "The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a widow, 11 couples who wish to marry in Pennsylvania or want the commonwealth to recognize their out-of-state marriages, and two teenage children of one of the plaintiff couples.

    'We are overjoyed that we will finally be able to get married in our home state in front of our family and friends,' said Christine Donato, who has been in a committed relationship with Sandy Ferlanie for 17 years. They have a six-year-old son, Henry.

    In his opinion, Judge John E. Jones III said:

    'In the sixty years since Brown [v. Board of Education] was decided, ‘separate’ has thankfully faded into history, and only ‘equal’ remains. Similarly, in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage.  We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.'

    'The court, in a bell-ringing opinion, has explained in crystal clear language why the promises of our Constitution extend to all Pennsylvanians. We urge the commonwealth to take whatever steps are necessary to allow marriages to proceed and the celebrations to begin immediately. 'What a great day!' said Mark Aronchick of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller. ..."

    " 'This is yet another win in a long line of rulings finding that denying same-sex couples the protections and dignity of marriage is unconstitutional,' said Leslie Cooper, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. 'Across the country, Americans are embracing the idea that same-sex couples and their families deserve to be treated the same as other families'. ..."

    " 'This is a momentous day for our clients and all same-sex couples in Pennsylvania who want to have their love and commitment to each other recognized in the same way as that of other couples,' said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania." 4

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "National Organization for Marriage Condemns Decision by Pennsylvania Judge to Redefine Marriage and Urges Governor Corbett’s Administration to Appeal Ruling Immediately," National Organization for Marriage, 2014-MAY-20, at: http://www.nomblog.com/
  2. Ivey DeJesus, "Catholic Church: court ruling on gay marriage redefines God's law, trumps democratic process," Patriot News, 2014-MAY-20, at: http://www.pennlive.com/
  3. Ivey DeJesus, "Ban on gay marriage struck down in Pennsylvania: A look at voices and opinions," Patriot News, 2014-MAY-20, at: http://www.pennlive.com/
  4. "Federal Judge Strikes down PA’s Ban on Marriage for Same-Sex Couples," American Civil Liberties Union, 2014-MAY-20, at: https://www.aclu.org/ at: http://www.pennlive.com/

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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance 
Originally written: 2014-MAY-21
Latest update: 2014-MAY-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

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