Same-Sex Marriage Gaining Traction in PA?

By Ali Carey, Contributing Writer

Just last week a Franklin & Marshall College Poll, conducted for the Daily News among other statewide media outlets, found that exactly 50 percent of Pennsylvanians either strongly or somewhat support a constitutional amendment to allow same-sex marriage, a whopping 42 percent increase since 2009.

So does this mean we can expect to see gay marriage in PA sometime soon?

Who better to discuss this hot issue with then the owner of Philadelphia Gay News, Mark Segal, as well as the Vice President for Policy of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, Tom Shaheen?

Segal’s personal journey as a gay rights activist began in 1971 and he has been the proud owner of Philadelphia Gay News since its inception 35 years ago.  He boasts that it is the longest operating LGBT publication and the most award winning.  He writes a weekly column for Philadelphia Gay News as well as many other publications.

The Pennsylvania Family Institute is a non-profit research and education organization, based in Harrisburg, that focuses on policies and cultural trends at the state level which impact families.  The organization works with with pro-life, pro-family legislative and grassroots leaders to help defeat “anti-family” legislation.

Mark Segal

According to Segal, the gay community is “pleased but not surprised” by the results of the recent poll.  He believes PA voters are generally very compassionate, reasonable people.  He argues that as more voters begin to see that a constitutional amendment legalizing gay marriage would not undermine heterosexual marriage, they become increasingly open to the new legislation.

Segal believes that the reason gay marriage hasn’t been legalized yet is simply due to fear, but as people become more educated on the issue the, “fear factor that has been prevalent in the Republican party dissipates.”

“Once they know the facts they will see that gay marriage doesn’t change their religion in any way,” said Segal.

“The numbers have been increasingly improving as Pennsylvanians get to know the gay community.  I am hopeful that our elected officials will begin to take these issues seriously.”

Sheehan interpreted the results of the latest poll quite differently.  He emphasized that the poll included two related questions as a part of a larger survey.  He argued that the question pertaining to civil unions “at best shows a slight majority favoring civil unions.”

Tom Shaheen

According to Sheehan the question failed to accurately describe a civil union.  “In other states like New Jersey, Connecticut and Vermont it’s the same as marriage.”

Sheehan believes that “people generally want to be fair-minded,”, however he underscored that the description of a civil union in the survey question was an “entirely different entity” than what a civil union actually is.

Like Segal, Sheehan agreed that voters need to become more educated on the issue of gay marriage and civil unions.  He referenced New Jersey’s Civil Union Act which passed back in 2006 requiring its legislature to substitute over 1200 instances of marital terms for civil union ones.

Sheehan strongly supports keeping the PA constitution the way it is.  He doesn’t believe the results of the latest poll are a true indication of the direction of legislation in the commonwealth and he is hopeful that next legislature will support their “pro-family” cause.

At the end of the day, gay marriage probably isn’t right around the corner in Pennsylvania. Segal isn’t holding his breath – instead he believes a non-discrimination bill is more important than passing a marriage equality bill.  He maintains that practically every major county in PA supports some form of a discrimination bill and it’s the state that’s lagging behind.

However, Segal is still excited to see the direction the population is leading its elected officials in.

“We want to work with these elected officials and bring them on board so that every person’s job in PA is secure.”

September 7th, 2011 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Harrisburg | 9 Comments

9 thoughts on “Same-Sex Marriage Gaining Traction in PA?”

  1. Philipp' says:

    I doubt Sanctorum’s home state will progress beyond its Nürenburg laws in our lifetimes.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R9GVU0mAi4

  2. Andrew says:

    Okay people. What’s the hold up? I live in Canada and am disgusted at the fact that in 24 states in US, it is still legal to marry your cousin. Wouldn’t that be something more to worry about when it comes to protecting the sanctity of marriage? At least when its a gay couple, they usually aren’t from the same family….. And as for the “civil union” that everyone is trying to induce upon gay people, that’s just ignorant. I didn’t ask my husband to have a “civil union” with me, i asked him to MARRY me.

  3. Jay from Philly says:

    This article doesn’t mention it, but something like 62% of Pennsylvanians support civil unions. Those who are against gay marriage are also ignorant of civil unions. Ask them what they think of civil unions and you get a blank stare.

  4. Dale says:

    To Mary Waterton: liberty and equality are not a popularity contest.

    When the CA Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage statewide in 1948, 90% of Americans opposed it. In 1967, when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage on a nationwide level, 72% still opposed it. It wasn’t until 1994 that these people were in the minority for the first time with 41% opposing and 45% approving.

    Thank God we have a constitution and a judicial branch of government to set us right when we make mistakes.

    Sources:
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/28417/most-americans-approve-interracial-marriages.aspx
    1948 figure from Gail Mathabane, “Gays face same battle interracial couples fought,” USA Today, 2004-JAN-25.

  5. Mary Waterton says:

    If the liberals truly believe and stand behind those poll numbers, then let the citizens of PA have a vote in 2012. Let the citizens vote on a state constitutional amendment that chooses between these two options:

    Ban gay marriage: Yes or no
    Legalize gay marriage: Yes or no

    Fact is, the liberal news media is always publishing polls that “prove” the majority of Americans support homosexual marriage. Yet, when put to a free and fair vote, it always loses … 30 states so far, even in liberal California! That tells me the liberal news media is LYING.

  6. Los says:

    This is how I see it… If I’ve decided and dedicated myself to another man, we’re living together and want a family, we should have the same rights. I want to be able to adopt, or have my own family if I so choose to. I want to be able to keep the house my partner and I have purchased together and not have to worry about paying a tax on it as an inheritance. I want to be able to take care of my love if something happens medically. People think that being in a gay relationship is all negative; it’s what we know. Educate yourself and you’ll see that it’s not what you think. Don’t get me wrong, there are people who are wreckless, but that’s not only gay people.

    For ex., yrs ago at a NY PR day parade a few guys raped a girl; so now all PRs are rapist? I don’t think so. It only takes ONE to ruin it for all.

    I want TOTAL EQUAL rights, not a civil union stating that it’s only legal in CERTAIN aspects. I bet you gay couples would have A LOT less divorces.

    anywho, just MY opinion and RANT. lol ;)

  7. Dale says:

    How can a person be “pro family” while seeking to deny the protections of legal marriage to the children being raised by gay couples? (Who I might add are often assuming responsibility for the throw-away children of irresponsible heterosexual dalliances.) If he is truly pro family he would support the rights & protections of all families.

  8. Dale says:

    I fail to understand painting this as gays against people who like marriage. Gay couples wish to have equal access to a civil marriage license not because they hate marriage but because they too support marriage and wish to be a part of it. I think insinuation that gays want to destroy the institution of marriage is self serving and specious. If traditional marriage is in a shambles that is hardly the fault of the one group who’s been historically denied the right to marry.

  9. Isaac says:

    What could be more pro-family than encouraging couples to marry? Seems to me, Mr. Segal is the pro-family and pro-fairness individual here.

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