Yet another example of Governor Corbett of Pennsylvania’s failed policies was at the forefront today, primary election day, 2014. Last year, 11 couples, a widow and the adult child of a same-sex couple filed a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s version of the Defense of Marriage Act. In response to the lawsuit, Governor Corbett decided to spend an exorbitant amount of money defending the state’s position by hiring private attorneys when PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane refused to defend the unconstitutional law. Today, Judge John Jones, a President George W. Bush appointee deemed the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional. In part, Judge Jones wrote,
“Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection…
“Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of ‘separate but equal’…
In future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage.”
It’s almost as though Judge Jones stole the words right out of my mouth. I yearn for the day when marriage is known as just marriage and not “traditional marriage,” or “gay marriage.” Marriage is such a hot button issue, because so many people have a difficult time separating a religious marriage from a civil marriage. We’re not trying to rewrite what others think their religion stands for, we are fighting tirelessly for the recognition of civil marriage. I couldn’t be more proud of the decision Judge John Jones announced today, and quite frankly, it came as no surprise. While it’s inevitable that Governor Corbett will appeal this decision, and the decision about marriage equality will ultimately rest in the hands of the nine Supreme Court justices, we can rest assured that one day marriage equality will be a realization for all Americans and celebrate today’s major victory for the citizens of Pennsylvania.
Through my previous work with the Human Rights Campaign and Americans for Workplace Opportunity and my current work with Marriage Equality for Pennsylvania (ME4PA), I have had the distinct honor of meeting two of the plaintiffs on this case. Frita and Lynn are two average working-class people that have children of their own and are foster parents. They are the epitome of an American family. I admire these two and the many other plaintiffs in the Whitewood v. Corbett case as they are the ones spearheading the movement and paving the way for those of us unwilling or unable to fight this fight in the courtroom so that we all can have the same right to marry the person we love.
Today marks yet another day when I am proud to be a Pennsylvanian and an American. Each day we take one step closer to equality, and I cannot wait for the day when something such as marriage equality is a normal part of this country. People say our founding fathers would be rolling in their graves if they saw the decisions our courts have been making over the years, but I disagree. The genius behind the Constitution is that is a living document that evolves with society. Our own attitudes towards certain laws have changed over time and our country has to be able to make those adjustments. The Constitution makes that possible. In the words of Macklemore, no freedom until we’re all equal.