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PA Dem Leader Defects, Cites Gay Marriage

Nardelli, center, at the table of the Blair County Federation of Democratic Women in 2009

Democratic party activists will see her sequined dresses at state committee meetings no more. Jo Ann Nardelli, President and founder of the Blair County Federation of Democratic Women and a state committeewoman, has defected to the GOP. The final straw? President Obama’s support for gay marriage.

In a letter of resignation to the PA Democratic party, Nardelli cited her Catholic faith.

“I respect all of you and all that I have achieved in the past. Due to personal matters and faith beliefs at this time, it is only fair to resign,” she wrote. “I will miss you all very much as you are all a part of my family; however, it is time to move forward with my life in a direction that is more in line with my faith.”

She announced her decision at a press conference at the courthouse in Hollidaysburg Wednesday where, according to Blair GOP Chair A.C. Stickel, she explicitly cited the President’s recent announcement of support for gay marriage. She also opposes abortion rights.

At the press conference, Nardelli endorsed Mitt Romney and immediately afterwards changed her voter registration.

Nardelli matches the profile of voters who have at times given the President heartburn: culturally conservative, working class and somewhat rural – aka Reagan Democrats.

She’s been an active Democrat for two decades and in 2008 was an area leader for Obama’s campaign. In addition to the BCFDW, she served on the PA Democratic State Committee Executive Board, was Vice President of the PA State Women’s Caucus and was 1st Vice President of the PA State Federation of Democratic Women (she had been in line for the presidency of that organization in 2014).

She had served on state committee for 6 years and was easy to spot at meetings thanks to her affinity for sequins.

She also ran twice, unsuccessfully, for Blair County Commissioner.

It’s that last part of her bio that some Dems blame for her switch. As much or more than just ideology, local politics and personalities may also have influenced her decision.

A source close to the local Democratic party who declined to speak on the record said that tensions had grown between Nardelli and the party; she has accused local leadership of undermining her campaign in 2011.

“I don’t know what the beef is,” said Blair County Democratic Chairman Frank Rosenhoover. “We supported them both [the two Democratic Commissioners candidates], we gave them both money,” and “equal fervor.”

Rosenhoover, who said he hadn’t spoken with Nardelli since November, suggested her move was a surprise but wouldn’t affect the party.

“It will have no impact on the Democratic Party in Blair County or the re-election of Barack Obama.”

But that didn’t keep the local GOP from crowing about their new recruit.

“Jo Ann is just one of many Democrats who I believe will find that Romney is the best choice for Pennsylvania and our values,” said Stickel. “We welcome Jo Ann to our Party.”

44 Responses

  1. This just makes me sad. Joann’s leaving reinforces the notion that religion (or Catholicism specifically) is more about “these are the rules no matter what” and less about “love your neighbor.” Supporting a party that has no concern for the social safety net as well as the other issues that Michael cited on the basis of wedge issues definitely seems misguided, to say the least.

  2. We can look at Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Church for original intent as well as the last 200 years’ worth of Supreme Court case law that pretty well establishes that the majority should not be able to enforce its religious beliefs on religious minorities. There are plenty of churches and religious groups that recognize same-sex marriages and their right to practice their faith should not be discriminated against by the government. By not recognizing the validity of their marriages, the government is favoring one religious interpretation of marriage over another.

    I’m not confusing anything. The only opposition I hear is individuals citing tradition and religion, and the two overlap quite a bit, but citing either only really means “recent tradition” or “recent religious interpretation” but let’s not go down that rabbit hole.

    Frankly, if marriage is so religious, then the government shouldn’t be involved in it at all (Jefferson’s Wall of Separation) and civil marriage should really only be called a “civil union” since it’s a legal institution entered into by two consenting adults.

    All of these red herrings about two siblings, etc. are logical fallacies meant to distract from the argument – two consenting adults should be allowed to enter a legal union recognized by the government and have equal access to the 1,138 legal rights, privileges, and benefits of civil marriage. There is simply no argument against this that isn’t based on religious discrimination, logical fallacies (appeal to tradition, slippery slope, etc.) or simply basic unfairness.

  3. The intolerant haters posting here should be all the evidence that this faith-guided lady needs to know that she did the right thing.

  4. I especially like the post about principals. Calling psychotic hate a principal is funny. She’ll spice up the RepubliKlan meetings for sure with her sequined sheets.

  5. I feel bad about this as I always liked Jo Ann at State Committee.

    Had I known, however, that she felt I was not equal to her and my struggle for equal rights was so contrary to her beliefs that she felt compelled to leave the party, I would not have befriended her.

    Friendship rests in mutual respect and clearly she offered none to her gay and lesbian “friends.”

    Let’s see what the vote is at the state committee meeting to back the president on this issue. I am confident our party will stand strong with our president.

  6. Don’t let the doorknob hit you on the way out. Drag your knuckles and breathe through your mouth and you’ll fit right in.

  7. I commend her for a couple of things. To begin with, she has principles. Second, she stands up for them, to the point of leaving a position where she had a future.

    So many posters seem to mindlessly adopt whatever “Principles duJour” are announced by their worshipful masters. They seem afflicted by the Jonestown syndrome.

  8. @Isaac- you are misstating the first amendment. The idea was there would be no state church and that the state would not be involved in the churches business.

    You are also confusing religious views and worldview. Everyone has a right to their own worldview and to take their worldview into the public square in the free exchange of ideas. The same right applies to those who have a worldview based in faith as those whose worldview is not. The tendency has been for those who do not have a faith based worldview to try and silence those who do.

    Nice spin on outlawing, really. But this has nothing to do with theocratic societies and outlawing same sex marriage. It is something you are advocating to make legal that has not previously been legal.

  9. @equalityforall

    Interesting points. I have no interest in arguing with you, but do wish to interject a different perspective you may have not considered.

    First, I would agree that same sex marriage is most likely not the single issue she split with the democratic party on, especially if it was over faith, as she states. It was most likely the straw that broke the camels back. I am sure it was a culmination of issues.

    Secondly, I would not understand why if she has friends that were involved in same sex relationships, that you would posit she would lose them as friends. Most people have friends who do not share all their views and friends that are in a different political party. I imagine it would be the context in which you use the word friend. True friends,,,if she lost them over a difference of opinion, especially when it involves a matter of personal faith, would normally respect one for standing up for what they believe in as opposed to going along to get along. Again, refer back to point one for context. There are same sex couples who are not “marriage advocates”, but do want civil equity.

    Thirdly you posit, ” (1) should by all accounts be allowed to share the union of marriage and (2) be given the exact rights that heterosexuals are given.” then say, “(3) But it is not happening in the bedrooms of your lives” .

    If your argument is one of civil equity under the law, then point two is valid. Point one is not. Why? The state adopted the institution of marriage and made it a civil contract. Granted, most churches require a civil license to be married by them, however, the institution of marriage never required a license.

    If the state chooses to license unions between all adult couples , at that point the name of the license should be changed to civil union license and the same license would be issued for all qualified couples (under the states guidelines)

    Which leads to your third point. The state has infiltrated the bedroom. In fact, special legal protections are given to same sex couples which is a result of their choices in the bedroom.

    The state and the church are separate institutions. The state has no right to interject its mandates of the church or its institutions and rites. If the state wishes to legally redefine what is a licensed union of adult partners and still term in marriage, it will be marriage in the eyes of the state, but will not bind the church to redefine marriage. t will also not bind the church to accept the union as a legitimate marriage or to confer the benefits of being recognized as a valid marriage (in the eyes of the church)

    Of course, it is quite understandable why this issue is coming up now, it serves as a great distraction …….

  10. Well, no one has stepped up to answer my question. But, from what we can gleen from the comments, it looks like the Democrats have been very upset that brothers and sisters have not been allowed to marry and have not had equality. Or, they’re just hypocritical bigots.

  11. Touche’ Tony…well said… Sorry to see you go Jo Ann. You were, what I thought, to be a damn good Dem. So sad to see you have confused your religion vs. EQUALITY to ALL citizens. How many gay/lesbian friends did you have~ you just lost? … I simply wonder?… but then again because of your strong convictions your gay/lesbian friends were probably reluctant to let you know they are. And @ProLife Family… No one .. I repeat NO ONE.. is asking that Brothers and Sister’s be allowed to marry.. or multiple people…. It IS a civil right that anyone, be it male/male or female/female who have found true love with one another ~should by all accounts be allowed to share the union of marriage and be given the exact rights that heterosexuals are given. Some may not agree or wish to condone it… But it is not happening in the bedrooms of your lives. So why should it bother you so?…. I am a Christian … My Lord knows that I am… and he would be ashamed of me IF I turned my back on my fellow compatriot. Wake Up people!!! and for The sake of GOD please stop trying to shove your zealot Ideas down the throats of the citizens of this country! It is and should be no concern to you. Period! ~Good luck in that new direction you have chosen Jo Ann…. I seriously feel you are going to find out you disagree with more of the GOP beliefs than just your religious beliefs. With all the good you have done for the Democratic party it will be hard to imagine the loss of all your energy. Adios.

  12. She stood on her principles and the President stood on his for EQUALITY and should not be faulted.

  13. So this good and decent Catholic abandoned her political party over a disagreement with its leaders over policy. I don’t criticize that judgement…its a free country. I do note, however, that she did not choose to abandon her church when the leaders of her church were found to be coddling and protecting child molesting priests and hiding evidence of it from law enforcement. Interesting priorities.

  14. I may not understand politics too much but if this single issue is the reason for changing parties then you must not really understand all the issues between the dems and reps. I believe that both parties have good and bad issues. I can support marriage equality and be a republican. I am pro-life but was a democrat. It’s not a single issue that sways a judgement but the full body of issues. This swing to the reps was probably more to garner headlines than it was solely about marriage equality.

  15. Jo Ann… just remember doing anything in anger never accomplishes anything, may you always remember the bridge you just burned! It will never be there for you again…

  16. The First Amendment doesn’t give anyone the right to impose her religious views on others – when the government favors one religious view over another, that’s a violation of the Establishment Clause. There are numerous religious sects, including many Christian churches, who do not believe homosexuality is a sin and point to linguistic and contextual historical evidence to support this interpretation of the Bible (read up on the trouble scholars have translating “arsenokoites”). This is not a theocracy and by outlawing same sex marriage, we are showing preference to religious groups who are against it over religious groups who are for it.

    Religious freedom of the First Amendment requires that same sex marriage be legalized.

    And it seems a lot of people here forgot their history – the Southern bigots left the Democratic Party after the Civil Rights Act. That’s why the South is predominantly Republican today and that’s why things like Southern Strategy exist (for the uninitiated Southern Strategy is “the Republican Party strategy of winning elections in Southern states by exploiting anti-African American racism and fears of lawlessness among Southern white voters and appealing to fears of growing federal power in social and economic matters (generally lumped under the concept of states’ rights).”)

  17. Wow, the love of the Dems is so obvious here! I’m sure some have faith in the God that made them, but so many here show their hatred of Him and His Word. This is really revealing.

    I’m neither a Dem nor a Republican; I voted for the only candidate that isn’t a warlord and who didn’t support terrorism from DC upon our country and others.

  18. I have a question for the “civil rights” crowd:

    I don’t think two brothers should be able to marry. Or two sisters. Am I a bigot?

    I don’t think 3 people should be able to marry either. Does that make me a bigot?

  19. I’m wondering which “faith” she is following? A Party which calls for the removal of health benefits from the sick and dying; elimination of the social safety net; governmental intrusions between a woman and her doctor; unfaltering support of greed and tax cuts for the very wealthy; wars on women, gays, the middle class, Muslims, Latinos, single parents, the poor and students; and the removal of religious liberty and civil rights for all pro-equality Americans is a “faith” I’m not familiar with. It certainly has nothing to do with the Christian faith which is based on treating others as we want to be treated. Will anti-gay activist Nardelli also “leave” any Party which supports religious liberty for other faiths she may not like–or is this just specifically a slap against the faith of pro-equality Americans?

  20. Bye. Don’t let the door hit ya.
    Hope you have a child, grandchild or loved one who one day is faced with loving someone but being denied the same rights as others.
    Maybe you’ll think twice about your closed minded judgement then.

  21. Kevin-I was kind of with you in being critical of some of my fellow liberal friends, until you started name calling yourself.

  22. This is welcome news. Let’s get all the bigots in the same Party to keep everything simple.

  23. Why do Liberals insult you and run as soon as real facts are injected into a discussion?

  24. Disgusting American: You just called Dr. Martin Luther King Jr a Goose-stepping olympian.

  25. You are a Disgusting American you liberal wackjob. The Civil Rights act was passed by republicans and opposed by democrats. Coretta’s husband was a lifelong republican. You are a hateful, vile idiot. I am sure your friend (I am pretty comfortable saying you have only one) must love listening to your tired droning over and over. I just cannot wait to hear your response to this, I am certain it will be classy.

  26. Kevin Rodgers – HUH/ Goose Stepping…? The Republican Party has made that thier Code of honor…..Goose stepping should be a GOP Olympic sport

  27. Christine Flowers – Shocking a shrew like you would chime in…an Ambulance Chaser….shocked I tell you- shocked… obviously too have NO CLUE about the Constitution….and I’ll Take Ted Olson and David Boise’s Advise over yours anyday…and the Fact that ther SCOTUS has stated 14x that Marriage IS a FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT of every person….ohh and a CIVIL RIGHT according to Corretta Scott King, Congressman John Lewis, and Julian Bond & Mildred Loving……who MARCHED with MLK JR…you are the typical self hating woman who cant see past her Buybull…and You practice law? LOL Where’d you go to school..Liberty U……

  28. It’s refreshing to see the “tolerance” of the progressives in this blog. Yes a woman left the Dem party is the wake of the “Republican war on women.” The absolute foolishness of some of these people to think that all Republicans march in lockstep on every issue is insanity. They are blaming Republicans for what they themselves are doing. We may walk together on major issues, but we respect the differences in our party. The Dems walk in goose-step, (like some other fascists I can recall), and if you don’t get in line, on the train you go. Just ask Joe Lieberman.

  29. BYE…..see yea …Hope you enojoy being on the WRONG side of History!!! Another STUPID woman who has ZERO clue as to the struggle women fought for from Men and Religious Institutions for THEIR RIGHTS…….what a LOSER! ..ohhh and Shove your Buybull sweety.

  30. Good riddance to bad rubbish, and take your hateful theocracy with you. I’m sorry you worship a “god” who is an a$$hole, and I understand that since you live a biblical life, and demand only biblical laws be shoved down everyone else’s throat, that you yourself will cast yourself into the desert for seven days when you are “unclean” and menstruating, because, you know, god hates your mestrual blood, too. Typical wingnut Christianist.

  31. Simply because you call something a ‘civil right’ doesn’t make it a ‘civil right.’ Religious freedom actually is a civil right, the first one mentioned in the Bill of Rights. Same sex marriage is a politically sexy issue, and gays, lesbians and the people who love them would like us to ignore the Constitution and follow our hearts and recognize their so-called right to marry, but that does not and should not force this government to cave in and ‘create’ a right out of whole cloth (like the ‘right to abortion’) so that people can feel better about themselves.

  32. Good riddance. We don’t need theocratic bigots on the State Committee.

    And btw–it’s now statewide news when a conservative Democrat from Blair County disagrees with gay marriage? Really?

  33. Thank you Jo Ann for resigning your post. It’s a small step towards bringing PA into the 21st century regarding same sex marriage equality. Now the post in the Democratic party can be filled by someone who agrees that marriage rights are not guided by religion, but are civil rights that should be enjoyed by all.

  34. Until people like Jo Ann acknowledge that non-religious straight couples are allowed to marry in our country, her rhetoric will continue to ring false. Being religious has never been a requirement to getting married. Religious and non-religious couples get married at city hall every single day. You cannot use your chosen religious beliefs to dictate civil laws in our country. That’s what theocracies do.

  35. So Jo Ann doesn’t think millions of Americans should have the same civil rights as she has. She fits in well with the Republican Party.

  36. I hope someday all people in the USA have the same rights that others take for granted.
    I guess if you believe in marriage equality for all, you shouldn’t belong to the Republican Party.

  37. good for you…following your faith, which still matters, even though it’s anchored in history, that doesn’t mean it’s outdated or old-hat, but that it’s been proven and tested for generations. Good choice, God bless you!

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