Same-sex ruling inspires hope
27th October 2008
A day before Connecticut's gay marriage legislation goes into effect, members of Penn State's community of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies (LGBTA) hope Pennsylvania will also consider legalizing gay marriage.
"I hope Pennsylvania sees this and takes this as progress being made," said Alex Yates, co-president of SpeakOut, an LGBTA group on campus.
Connecticut's Supreme Court ruled Oct. 11 same-sex couples had a constitutional right to marry. The legislation argues a ban against gay marriage violates the Constitutional guarantees of equal protection under law.
Yates (sophomore-secondary education) said he hopes Pennsylvania would consider the possibility of legalizing gay marriage.
He said that it would be a great thing on the basic level of equality if they do consider it.
"I hope changes will be made and states begin to address the ban on gay marriage as unequal," he said.
Chuck Ardo, press secretary for Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, said gay marriages are not currently recognized in Pennsylvania, but that Rendell is a strong supporter of civil unions which allow same-sex couples to receive benefits and rights similar to those of a married couple, he said.
Currently, Pennsylvania follows the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA), which allows only marriages between one man and one woman to be seen as legitimate.
The statute also does not recognize marriages between same sex couples that were legitimized in other states as valid.
In 2007, Pennsylvania Sen. Michael Brubaker, R-Lancaster, sponsored a bill that would amend the state constitution, that would define a legal marriage in Pennsylvania as a union of only one man and one woman.
However, according to a press release, the bill was held because Pennsylvania had already enacted the DOMA legislation.
Ardo said there have been a number of proposals submitted to amend the state constitution to say only marriages between one man and one woman are legal. But he said they weren't a good idea.
"It will only open it up to a plethora of possible amendments," Ardo said. "We follow whatever the law is."
Ardo added the state legislature has not taken serious measures to legalize same-sex marriages. But he said the governor will consider it once it reaches his level.
State College Mayor Bill Welch said he was pleased to hear about Connecticut legalizing gay marriage. He said he has no problem with gay commitments and gay marriages and removing a ban against same-sex marriages is a "progressive" move.
"This will make a lot of folks happy," Welch said. "It's what I always say, let them join in on the pain of marriage."
However, Welch doesn't believe the ruling will make much of a difference in Pennsylvania.
"Unfortunately, I don't think much of anything influences the Pennsylvania legislature," he said.
Welch presided over a Pride Commitment Ceremony in the HUB-Robeson Center during March.
The ceremony kicked off the Coalition of LGBTA Graduate Students' Pride Week.
Welch said in March the event was the first publicly held same-sex commitment ceremony to ever be performed by a public official in Centre County.
Along with the new law in Connecticut, same-sex marriage in California became legal in June of this year, The Associated Press reported.
According to the California Secretary of State's Voter Election Guide, however, on next month's ballot residents will vote on Proposition 8.
If passed, this would reverse the law in the state.
It would take away the right for same-sex couples to marry, according to the guide.
If passed, it would also amend the state's constitution to say that marriage can only be between one man and one woman, according to the guide.
Same-sex marriages allowed in some states only has effect on the state level.
The U. S. federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage under DOMA.