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Same-sex marriage (SSM) In Pennsylvania

Part 9: Whitewood v. Wolf lawsuit:
Governor Corbett (R) accepts court
ruling (Cont'd). Marriages begin.

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This topic is continued from a previous essay.

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2014-MAY-21: Governor Corbett (R) makes a difficult decision (Cont'd)

  • Equality Pennsylvania commented:

    "Words cannot express what this means to the all of us in Pennsylvania who have waited so long to be recognized. Marriage matters to all families, and we rejoice with you today.

    We also understand that what matters is not that we share the exact same beliefs with everyone in the commonwealth, but that we respect each other’s differences and treat everyone equally. That is why we appreciate what Gov. Corbett did today and we hope that we will be able to work together to continue to build bridges of understanding." 3

  • The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) stated in a news release:

    "With today’s announcement, Gov. Corbett joins a number of other current and former Republican governors who have withdrawn their defense of marriage equality bans in court, including Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California.

    'Governor Corbett did the right thing in not standing in the way of thousands of loving couples' ability to make lifelong commitments to each other through marriage,' said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. 'Breaking down this dark wall of discrimination in the Keystone State strengthens our ever-growing momentum as we continue to expand the marriage equality map. Thanks to the hundreds of plaintiffs and attorneys across the country challenging these discriminatory marriage bans, its only a matter of time before a state border no longer dictates whether a loving couple can legally share in the joys of marriage'." 4

  • Freedom to Marry's president, Evan Wolfson, said:

    "Gov. Corbett's decision not to waste taxpayers' money defending the indefensible denial of the freedom to marry even one day longer is the right decision for Pennsylvania, for families, and for the country -- and one more big step forward to celebrate. ... Pennsylvania is showing the country that when gay couples share in the freedom to marry, it's joy, love, security, and happiness and a stronger community for everyone, and no one loses. And this latest decision by a Republican governor not to try to keep gay couples from marrying is additional proof that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry." 11

To our knowledge, this is the first time that a Republican governor in a state with a Republican majority in both houses of the Legislature, has not fought doggedly to preserve marriage inequality.

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Impacts of the decision by the Governor and Attorney General:

The District Court ruling will apparently stand unchallenged in Pennsylvania. Marriage equality has come to stay in the 19th U.S. state!

Including the District of Columbia, marriage equality now exists in 20 political jurisdictions as of 2014-MAY-21. Same-sex and opposite-sex couples will be treated identically by the State of Pennsylvania and by the federal government. All married couples will have access to a few hundred state -- and 1,138 federal -- protections, rights, and benefits for themselves and their children. But above all, same-sex married couples will be able to legitimately refer to themselves as married. To many such couples, this is the most important right of all.

The HRC had earlier commented that if marriage equality came to Pennsylvania, then:

"44 percent of Americans would live in states where gay and lesbian couples can legally marry."

The HRC can now drop the "would" from the above sentence.

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2014-MAY-23 One of many same-sex couples marries:

Stephanie Stewart and LaQuana Myrick were married on Saturday, 2014-MAY-24 by officiant Rev. Lori E. Rivera of the Metropolitan Community Church of the Spirit in Harrisburg. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Rivera declared the two brides:

"... to be wedded wives in the eyes of God and all people. I now pronounce you legally married."

The newlyweds kissed and were presented to the crowd as "LaQuana and Stephanie Stewart." They had been engaged since 2012-FEB-18, and had planned to be joined in a "holy union" which would have had immense personal significance but no standing in law. One District Court's ruling, a Governor's agreement, an Attorney General's agreement, and a few word changes to the ritual converted the holy union into a "holy matrimony."

A short section of the marriage ceremony is shown below, preceeded by a short commercial. We recommend that you don't crank up the volume to hear the officiant speak because the cheer raised by those present will then be then be painfully loud.

6

The Stewart's don't perceive themselves as a "same-sex couple." Stephanie said:

"We're normal people in a normal, committed relationship. I don't think it's any different than my dad being married to my stepmother."

Rev. Eric Posa of the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg officiated at four weddings on the same Saturday involving same-sex couples who had been together for 5 to 37 years. Rev. Anne Mason of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Lancaster performed seven weddings for couples who had been together between 5 and 20 years. (Unitarian Universalist congregations are very liberal groups involving Agnostics, Atheists, Christians, Humanists, Jews, and others. "U-U's" were very active in favor of civil rights during the Jim Crow years of the 20th century, and generally promote marriage equality today.

Rev. Mason said:

"What I experienced is there were no barriers. It didn't matter what gender we were or what race. ... We were all connected because loving hearts were together and they were honored for who they are."

However, some of the couples did not have wedding photographs taken because they were not yet out of the closet. Pennsylvania does not have human rights legislation that protects the LGBT community from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Rev. Mason continued:

"They couldn't have people knowing they were out because they could be fired. That's the reality check. ... I want people who are energized by this day to work toward the passage for SB 300 [human rights bill] and we could do that in June. It's supposed to come up for a vote."

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LGBT symbol
As same-sex marriages (SSM) become routine, little news
about SSM is expected in the future, at least from Pennsylvania

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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. HRC Staff, "BREAKING: Ban on Marriage Equality Struck Down in Pennsylvania," Human Rights Campaign, 2014-MAY-20, at: http://www.hrc.org/
  2. 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/
  3. "BREAKING: Gov. Corbett will not appeal!," Equality Pennsylvania, 2014-MAY-21, at: http://www.equalitypa.org/breaking-gov-corbett-will-not-appeal/
  4. TRT Editor, "Victory: PA Governor Corbett declines to appeal, PA marriage ruling stands," The Rainbow Times Mass., 2014-MAY-21, at: http://www.therainbowtimesmass.com/
  5. Robert Barnes, "From a diverse group of judges, a unanimous opinion on same-sex marriage," Washington Post, 2014-MAY-26, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
  6. Julianne Mattera, "Gay marriage in Pa.: Same-sex couples feel mixture of joy, disbelief and destiny following marriage ceremonies," The Patriot-News, 2014-MAY-25, at: http://www.pennlive.com/
  7. "librarisingnsf," "NOM Urges Governor Corbett To Appeal Ruling Granting Marriage Equality In PA; Gov. Decides Not To," Daily Kos, 2014-MAY-21, at: http://www.dailykos.com/
  8. Brian Brown, "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/
  9. Jim Burroway, "The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, May 21," Box Turtle Bulletin, 2014-MAY-21, at: http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/
  10. "National Organization for Marriage Sharply Criticizes Decision by PA Governor Tom Corbett to Decline Appeal of Latest Anti-Marriage Decision," National Organization for Marriage, 2013-MAY-21, at: http://www.nomblog.com/
  11. Michael Muskal, "Pennsylvania governor abandons appeal on same-sex marriage ruling," Los Angeles Times, 2014-MAY-21, at: http://www.latimes.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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