PA Could “Tip the Scales” For Gay Marriage

Nearly half the United States lives where gay marriage is legal. Pennsylvania could prove pivotal.

The Inquirer reports today that nearly half the United States lives where gay marriage is legal—and that the cases challenging Pennsylvania’s ban could prove pivotal in the national debate, increasing that amount to more than 50 percent.

John Culhane, a law professor at Widener University, said Pennsylvania is more vulnerable than most of the other states because its ban is not enshrined in the state Constitution. That means opponents can challenge the law on state and federal grounds.

The commonwealth also is unique in that it is home to 118 same-sex couples who married here but who aren’t sure whether their marriages are valid.


Michael Geer, president of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which supports the current marriage law and says a majority of voters and elected officials agree, objects to the portrayal of same-sex marriage as "a growing tide," when so many states' laws are being decided in courtrooms.

"If they're confident that public opinion is changing and it's inevitable, if you will - well, then let this process work. It's a policy decision," he said. "In essence, it's been taken out of the hands of the people of Pennsylvania."

We'll have to see what the courts decide.

  • aislander

    Look folks, it’s very simple. The Constitution (and plain American fairness and dignity) require ALL U.S. citizens to be treated equally in matters of civil law. See the 5th and 14th Amendments. These supersede ANY state constitution or laws.

    From anti-gay activists and organizations we see a constant onslaught of Chicken Little predictions of doom, like predictions of soaring divorce rates (none of which have remotely come to pass despite a decade of experience with same sex marriage) …in fact the states with the longest experience with same sex marriage now have the LOWEST divorce rates in the nation, while those states with the most resistance to marriage equality have the HIGHEST divorce rates in the nation.

    Some say it’s all about the children. What about the children? The anti-equality side will never concede that there are, in FACT, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of children currently being raised in same sex households in the USA. This is a fact that will not be changed regardless of the outcome of this argument. How can one possibly justify denying these innocent children the protections, rights, responsibilities, and simple human dignity that can only come from allowing their law-abiding tax-paying same sex parents to marry? I’ve asked this question before, NO one has been able to respond.

    Yes, some have religious objections to homosexuality. That’s fine, anyone is free to live their personal lives according to their religion, but under our Constitution, they have absolutely no right to impose those religious beliefs upon anyone else, particularly through force of civil law, (and in fact many churches DO support and/or perform same sex marriage, and any church that does not will NEVER be required to do so.)

    Those trying to impose their religious beliefs upon all of us are obviously forgetting that so many of our forefathers came to this land expressly to escape precisely that kind of religious persecution.

    The desperate arguments of the anti-gay people out there are transparent and fail any rational basis test. This is why we see such a tidal wave of legal decisions in favor of same sex marriage. This is a great thing. What possible damage is caused by granting gay US citizens the right to enter into a legal contract, legally pledging lifetime commitment to their spouse and family? This is a great benefit to society, just as is heterosexual marriage.

    If you don’t believe in gay marriage, fine, don’t have one, but allowing loving same sex couples to provide the same protections for their families as yours certainly won’t damage you in any way. NO one has been able to show otherwise…so they should either put up or shut up, IMHO.

    • fortyfortresident

      Bravo, Aislander! Well written. I hope you don’t mind, but I am copying your response as I would like to share this. Thank you for such a smart retort!

      • aislander

        Don’t mind at all, feel free to use it!

        • fortyfortresident

          THANKS, of course, I will give you the credit. :)

    • Thomas Ranzenberger

      The PA constitution is even clearer on the subject. Since the people voted on the state constitution, which they did not do on the statute, it is the anti-marriage equality people who are ignoring the will of the people expressed at the ballot box. By the way, that the state equal rights amendment demands marriage equality was clearly articulated by opponents of the measure, in this case the conservatives were right.

      • aislander

        That is good to hear, and although the trend at the ballot box is in equality’s favor, I have always maintained that the notion that ANY group of citizen’s civil rights (including equal treatment under civil law) can be subject to a majority vote is reprehensible and unconstitutional. Our constitution is designed to prevent the tyranny of the majority.