Marriage Equality Rally Draws 200 to Harrisburg Federal Building

March 26 candle

Allentown, Lancaster Hold Vigils
By Central Voice

In a show of solidarity about 200 people gathered late this afternoon at Harrisburg City’s 3rd and Walnut Sts. Federal Court house to hold a vigil following the U. S. Supreme Court’s hearing oral arguments earlier today on marriage equality.

The nation’s highest court is examining two landmark marriage equality case: the constitutionality of the Definition of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s anti-same-sex Proposition 8.

Marriage equality vigils were also held in Lancaster, Allentown, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Scranton, and in about 155 locations nationwide.

The nation’s highest court earlier today began hearing oral arguments, which continue tomorrow. The court’s decisions could set anti-gay, same-sex marriage laws all across the nation on their ear. Early reports on the 90 minutes of oral argument indicate the justice’s exercised varied reasoning reflected in their questions to both proponents and opponents of same-sex marriage.

Lines for spectators to witness oral arguments began to form last Thursday night at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lines for spectators to witness oral arguments began to form last Thursday night at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lines for spectators to witness oral arguments began to form last Thursday night at the U.S. Supreme Court. Those at the Court report this is the earliest moment that anyone can remember this happening. By contrast, when the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare) cases were argued last year, the line started on the Friday before hearings began the following Monday.

Closer to home, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called on the highest court to strike down DOMA and Proposition 8. Last month, Schneiderman led a coalition of more than a dozen states in filing a friend-of-the-court brief against DOMA.

From left to right, rally speakers leading the crowd in Pledge of Allegience that includes “marriage equality for all”: Steve Dorko, Capital Region Stonewall Democrats; Katie Somers, Marriage Equality for PA; Deb McClain, Central PA Gay & Lesbian Chamber of commerce; Candace Sillers, Alder Health Services; Harrisburg City Controller and Mayoral candidate Dan Miller, PA State Rep. Patty Kim, 103rd Dist., and member of Equality Caucus, Ted Martin, Equality PA.

From left to right, rally speakers leading the crowd in Pledge of Allegience that includes “marriage equality for all”: Steve Dorko, Capital Region Stonewall Democrats; Katie Somers, Marriage Equality for PA; Deb McClain, Central PA Gay & Lesbian Chamber of commerce; Candace Sillers, Alder Health Services; Harrisburg City Controller and Mayoral candidate Dan Miller, PA State Rep. Patty Kim, 103rd Dist., and member of Equality Caucus, Ted Martin, Equality PA.

Speaking at the Harrisburg event were Steve Dorko, president, Capital Region Stonewall Democrats; Katie Somers, Marriage Equality for PA; Harrisburg City Controller Dan Miller, State Rep. Patty Kim, 103rd Dist., member of Equality Caucus, Ted Martin, Equality PA.

Marriage Equality for PA
Katie Somers, Marriage Equality for PA, told Central Voice she’d like opponents of marriage equality to understand that the only choice she made “was when to come out. I always knew growing up that I’d marry and have kids one day; just didn’t realize, at the time, that meant I would not have the same rights as my heterosexual peers.”

“My wife and I love each other,” Somers said. “We are all humans being and have the same basic emotional needs and unfortunately, don’t have the same basic protections under our current federal laws.”

Somers notes the many barriers to equality regarding same-sex marriage and basic civil rights.

“We should not be terminated from jobs for being gay,” Somers says. “We should not be turned away from housing or from securing loans because. We should not have to adopt our children as same-sex, second parents if we planned a pregnancy with our spouse. We should not have to file separate taxes,” she says.

Harrisburg Area NOW
Shamaine Daniels, Harrisburg Area NOW, an event sponsor, told Central Voice her local chapter supports marriage equality “because we believe everyone deserves to pursue healthy and loving relationships.”

The issue affects her organization’s membership when, she explains, the state restricts marriage, creates incentives and disincentives. “It has resulted in single women being disadvantaged by an unfair retirement formula, straight women being pressured to stay in unhealthy relationships, and lesbian women being excluded from receiving the benefits that stem from being married.”

Partners in the event included Capital Region Stonewall Democrats, Marriage Equality for PA, Equality PA, LGBT Community Center of Central PA, MCC of the Spirit, LGBT Interfaith Coalition, TransCentral PA, Pride Festival of Central PA, Silent Witness, Unitarian Universalist Church, Alder Health Services, PA NOW, Planned Parenthood, and Central Voice.

Allentown Vigil
More than 150 people braved freezing temperatures to show support for marriage equality March 23 in front of the federal courthouse in Allentown. The event hosted nine speakers and the A Cappella Chorus: Muhlenberg College’s Girls Next Door.

The rally was organized by Pennsylvania Diversity Network Executive Director Liz Bradbury, organizer of the event.

“Poll after poll continues to show that more Americans support marriage equality – this is a fight that is being won not by the LGBT community alone, but with support from businesses, labor unions, faith leaders, mayors and ordinary Americans who know that it’s wrong when equal rights are denied solely based on who we love,” said Adrian Shanker, President of Equality Pennsylvania. “It’s time for marriage for all Americans, and for all Pennsylvanians.”

The vigil’s keynote speaker Barb Baus explained that one of the cases is about the unfair tax burden same-sex spouses must pay when their legally married spouse dies. Baus said this mirrors her own situation. She told the hushed crowd that her legally married wife Cathy Burgi died last year, and that, “the state of Pennsylvania is treating me as a total stranger to Cathy, my partner of 15 years, by requiring me to pay the 15% inheritance tax.” Baus went on to explain that heterosexual spouses pay no inheritance tax and added, “I sincerely hope the Supreme Court follows the President’s suggestion and finds DOMA unconstitutional.”

Youtube: A video summary of March 26, 2013 court watch presented by Mark S. King – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIH-sNimhEM

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