As the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments this week on two landmark cases potentially impacting same-sex marriages, supporters rallied Tuesday in Harrisburg and Lancaster and called for marriage equality.
Dozens of people gathered in front of the the federal courthouse in Harrisburg, chanting as drivers passed and holding a candlelight vigil at 7:19 p.m. The specific time represents Pennsylvania Senate Bill 719, a Democratic-sponsored bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in the commonwealth.
“Knowing the Supreme Court is finally hearing oral arguments on behalf of lesbians and gay people, it’s an astounding time for us right now,” said Katie Somers.
Jennifer Young and Cassie Guerrero, who’ve been together over four years and have a son, attended the rally. They said they feel a legal recognition of same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania is a matter of time.
“We have the right to have a family. We should have the same rights to see our partners in the hospital, be able to get married and really be a family unit for our son,” said Young.
Guerrero added, “We’ve had to do power of attorney just to be able to do that sort of thing.”
The Supreme Court heard argument Tuesday on California’s Proposition 8, a voter-approved measure which bans same-sex marriage. The justices will hear argument Wednesday on the Defense of Marriage Act.
Pennsylvania, like the majority of states, does not legally recognize same-sex marriages.
According the National Conference of State Legislatures, 38 states have defined marriage as being between a man and a woman either through their state constitutions or by adopting “defense of marriage” language. To read more, click here.
In the last decade, public opinion nationally has been moving in the favor of supporters of marriage equality, especially among young people.
According to the Pew Research Center, “Polling conducted in 2003 found most Americans (58%) opposed to allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, and just a third (33%) in favor. The new survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted March 13-17, 2013 among 1,501 adults nationwide, confirms that these figures have crossed, with 49% supporting same-sex marriage, and 44% opposed.”
Randall Wenger, an attorney with the Pennsylvania Family Institute, acknowledged the change in public opinion but questioned the grounds for the Supreme Court to issue a sweeping change to current law.
“And, if we’re looking for the best for our kids, it may not be a great idea to jettison something that’s been really a constant over time from the beginning of recorded history to the present,” said Wenger. “We’ve seen that mothers bring specific values to their children. Fathers bring specific help to their children. The best mother in the world isn’t a father, and the best father in the world isn’t a mother.”