Ruling Expected Today in Challenge to Pennsylvania Same-Sex Marriage Ban

[UPDATE: 2: 41 p.m.] The ban has been overturned. 


Plugged-in local lawyer Adam Bonin — who has worked this election season for Daylin Leach and helped Brian Sims kick Babette Josephs off the ballot — tweeted last night that a ruling is expected today on a challenge in federal courts to Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban.

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Support for Gay Marriage On the Rise in Pennsylvania


Despite yesterday’s bummer (albeit expected) news that a South Philly gay couple was denied a marriage license at City Hall, there’s still reason to be hopeful. I just came across this refreshing article on CBS Philly, in which an analyst — named Madonna, thank you — reports that support for marriage equality continues to be on the rise in our state:

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Gay Couple Denied Marriage License at City Hall

Bob and Bill Sullivan (L-R) have been together for 20 years. They'll be among a group of couples to request marriage licenses at City Hall on Valentine's Day.

Bob and Bill Sullivan (L-R) have been together for 20 years.

On Thursday I reported that a group of same-sex couples were going to protest Pennsylvania’s gay marriage ban by strolling into City Hall to request a marriage license. The whole thing happened this morning, and this is what NBC 10 reports happened to one of those couples, Bob and Bill Sullivan of South Philadelphia:

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Philly Same-Sex Couples to Request Marriage Licenses at City Hall on Valentine’s Day [UPDATE]

UPDATE [2/15/2014, 2:05 p.m.): Just got this email update from Bill Sullivan: "We rescheduled the event for Tue., Feb. 18, at 10 a.m. We're going to room 413 for the license at 11 a.m."

UPDATE [2/13/2014, 9:02 p.m.): This event has been cancelled due to weather. Stay tuned to G Philly for updates on when it will be rescheduled.

Bob and Bill Sullivan (L-R) have been together for 20 years. They'll be among a group of couples to request marriage licenses at City Hall on Valentine's Day.

Bob and Bill Sullivan (L-R) have been together for 20 years. They’ll be among a group of same-sex couples to request marriage licenses at City Hall on Valentine’s Day.

Tomorrow — on Valentine’s Day, if you’re not keeping track — a group of same-sex couples will convene at City Hall to request marriage licenses.

One of those couples, Bill Sullivan, and his partner of 20 years, Bob, made history when they became the very first same-sex couple to marry in Vermont in 2009. They lived there for a few years as husband and husband before returning to Philadelphia, where they both grew up. “We were never political people,” he says. “But when we moved back to Pennsylvania our marriage became nullified. That’s when we decided to get active.”

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MONDAY KICKSTARTER: College Football Star Michael Sam Comes Out, Could Be NFL’s First Out Player

I trolled the web for LGBT headlines all weekend so you wouldn’t have to. Here’s what I came up with:


College football star Michael Sam comes out of the closet. If drafted, he could be NFL’s first out player 

Attorney General Eric Holder extends same-sex marriages “full and equal recognition to the greatest extent possible under the law” (video above)

North Carolina school crowns transgender homecoming king

City of West Hollywood incorporates rainbow into its new flag, because, hello, it’s West Hollywood

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Wilmington Photographer Launches Indiegogo Campaign for ‘First Comes Love’ Project

Philly couple Harvey Hurdle and Kevin Yoder pose for a photo with their son. Photo by: Barbara Proud

Philly couple Harvey Hurdle and Kevin Yoder pose for a photo with their son. Photo by: Barbara Proud

When Barbara Proud celebrated her 20th anniversary with her partner Allison in 2008, it occurred to her that what she’d accomplished was … well, a pretty big freaking deal.

“At that point, that really put us as the longest-surviving relationship in both our families — particularly in hers, where they’re on their third or fourth tries,” says Proud, a photographer based out of Wilmington, Del., and instructor at University of the Arts. “We’re the go-to couple: We take care of the babies, we take care of the dogs, we’re the executors — we’re everything to everyone. I was proud of us.”

Around this same time, Proud’s photography business was losing steam as a result of the economic downturn. But, determined to not be totally defeated, she decided to make gold out of a stinker of a situation. Drawing inspiration from her anniversary (and the Propostion 8 overturn), she started reaching out to other long-lasting couples in her Philadelphia network to pose for photos, which eventually expanded to inquiries to and from LGBT couples all across the country. The product: The First Comes Love Project, a compilation endeavor that has hosted photographs of  LGBT couples of high- and low-profile. (See: Her photograph of Prop. 8 plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier.) Read more »

‘Pennsyltucky’ Pastor Suspended for Officiating Gay Son’s Wedding

Schaefer stands in front of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in South Lebanon Township.

Schaefer stands in front of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in South Lebanon Township.

For weeks, we’ve been keeping you in the loop about Frank Schaefer’s ongoing conflict with Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in South Lebanon Township (Pennsyltucky territory), where he’s a pastor. Schaefer deviated from his church’s status-quo stance on marriage equality by officiating the wedding of his gay son in Massachusetts way back in 2007. On Monday, Schaefer was warned that if he didn’t reevaluate his position of solidarity with the LGBT community, he’d be stripped of his credentials. This, in anticipation of the volatile (and somewhat poetic, as you’ll see below) jury hearing among his peers that unfolded yesterday, Nov. 19.

The verdict: The Associated Press reports that Pastor Frank Schaeffer has been suspended for 30 days, and has within that timeframe to retract his stance on the issue. Read more »

Mo’Nique’s for Gay Marriage

As Maryland debates marriage equality, Academy Award-winning actress Mo’Nique threw her support behind LGBT advocates. Recently, she sent a fundraising email on behalf of the HRC, urging people to support the fight for marriage equality in the Free State. Mo’Nique, a Maryland native, also recorded a video for the “Americans for Marriage Equality” campaign, and delivered a similar message for Marylanders for Marriage Equality.

In her new email, Mo’Nique criticizes opponents who devalue same-sex parents and their families. “Nothing is more difficult than hearing attacks being made on anyone, especially my fellow Marylanders, however anti-equality forces are not going to make it easy,” she says. “They say that children will be hurt by having two moms or two dads and that religious institutions are under threat. You and I both know that simply is not true.”

Earlier this week, HRC announced a $1 million investment in the four ballot states pushing for marriage equality, including Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington – a major issue this election year. And having a Hollywood honcho on board definitely helps up the awareness.

“We are thrilled that Mo’Nique is continuing her efforts to protect marriage equality in Maryland,” says HRC President Chad Griffin. “Our opponents are running a deceptive and divisive campaign, but Mo’Nique’s voice is representative of the broad support for equality we’re seeing across the state.”

new poll shows that more than half of Marylanders agree with her. The overall support for marriage equality in Maryland is up to 54 percent. A Public Policy Poll from earlier this summer also shows that 55 percent of African-Americans in Maryland support marriage equality.

This also comes on the heels of the Democrat Party drafting marriage equality into their platform. According to HRC, the draft also includes support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that protects people from losing their jobs on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In 34 states, you can still be fired for gender identity. In 29 states, you can be fired simply for being gay.

Here’s what Mo’Nique thinks about all of this:

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Will Delaware Legalize Gay Marriage?

The governor with members of Equality Delaware when he signed civil unions into law (courtesy of Equality Delaware)

Delaware’s Gov. Jack Markell has long been an advocate for marriage equality. He recently told reporters that he expects that same-sex marriage could be legalized in The First State as early as next year. “Inevitable” is the word he used, saying that the state’s legislature will likely be taking up the issue sooner than many thought.

Delaware has already legalized civil unions since April of last year. But as most same-sex couples know, civil unions do not provide the same rights as marriage in most states.

And while the governor admits that it requires his support to achieve marriage equality in the state, he credits LGBT groups with advancing the cause among both voters and legislators.

“I think it’s always important to have gubernatorial leadership, but the other thing it’s very helpful to have – the real hero of getting civil unions done – was not me,” he said. “The real hero and heroine were a couple of people who led a group called Equality Delaware.”

The LGBT group formed to help end discrimination in the state, helping to draft what has become the civil union legislation. Now, both Markell and Equality Delaware are pushing for gay marriage. The organization also has interests in the recognition of marriage on a federal level, and the repeal of DOMA – perhaps marriage equality’s biggest stumbling block, even in states that have legalized it for same-sex couples – as well as transgender protections, immigration and youth and bullying issues.

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