Pa. legislators and religious groups react to DOMA decision
This morning, the Supreme Court found that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and will recognize that married gay men and women are eligible for federal benefits. In a separate ruling, the justices struck down Proposition 8, paving the way for same-sex marriage in California. We’ve compiled comments from Pennsylvania legislators, gay rights advocates and religious family-oriented groups below.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA): “The Supreme Court made the right decision in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act this morning. As a U.S. senator representing Pennsylvania, I have read many letters written to me by LGBT Pennsylvanians and their families who want nothing more than equal rights under the law. These letters included deeply personal statements from people across our Commonwealth and had a substantial impact on my decision to support marriage equality. I believe the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA was a critical step in strengthening equal rights for all.”
State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams (D-Philadelphia/Delaware): “While the U.S. Supreme Court has led us on an emotional roller coaster this week, those of us who support equality and the full human existence rejoiced today. Equal rights should not be qualified by gender, creed, color, ability or sexual orientation and neither should equal opportunity — be that for a consensual, committed relationship; a shot at higher education; or unfettered access to the franchise that codifies our citizenship. The court offered a few glimmers of hope today, but its rulings this week underscored the vast amount of work that remains if we are to have a more perfect union – in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation.”
State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware; he is also the prime sponsor of S.B. 719, which would legalize same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania. The bill currently awaits consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee): “Today the Supreme Court spoke on the issue of marriage equality. And the sound you heard is the arc of history bending towards justice. These two decisions bring our nation in line with our historic values. Discrimination and bigotry are simply not in America’s DNA. The court’s decision in the DOMA case was particularly poignant and insightful. The justices said that laws treating gay and straight people differently have ‘no legitimate purpose.’ I know where I stand. It’s time for our government to do right by ALL of the people of our great Commonwealth, and pass marriage equality and anti-discrimination legislation this year.”
Sam Rohrer, president of the Pennsylvania Pastors’ Network: “We are stunned at this decision today to take a 360-degree turn away from the biblical definition of marriage. While this decision is a setback to all we have fought for to protect marriage, we must continue to work to keep marriages and families intact, the way God intended them, and pray for a continued revival of the values upon which this country was founded.”
Mayor Michael Nutter: “Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of equality for every American citizen. The Court’s momentous decisions on DOMA and Prop 8 represent a landmark moment for our country, for our on-going fight for LGBT rights and for same-sex couples and families. In finding DOMA unconstitutional, same sex couples and families will have the rights they have been previously denied and greater protections under federal law. But this federal recognition is only one step in the many still needed for full equality across the country. While Pennsylvania still operates under a state-wide DOMA, with restrictions similar to that of the federal law just struck down, Philadelphia stands as a beacon of hope, a place of equality – we have the strongest civil rights law and protections of any city. With longstanding non-discrimination policies, relationship recognition for same-sex couples, domestic partner benefits and transgender-inclusive health benefits for city employees Philadelphia is a city that values the diversity of our residents and embraces every citizen’s rights. I am proud of Philadelphia’s contributions toward LGBT equality and am looking forward to the day when a Philadelphia Mayor can legally perform a same-sex marriage. As a Mayors For Marriage Equality member and a proud LGBT ally, I celebrate this victory.”
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput:“In striking down Sec. 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in United States v. Windsor, the Court leaves intact – at least for now — state constitutional definitions of marriage as an institution restricted to one man and one woman. As Justice Samuel Alito points out in his dissent, no federal ‘right’ to same-sex marriage exists. The Constitution simply does not establish one. As Catholics we believe marriage needs to be strengthened, not redefined. It is a great gift to men, women, children and society. Affirming the true definition of marriage denies no one his or her basic rights. On the contrary protecting marriage affirms the equal dignity of women and men and safeguards the basic rights of children.
Same-sex unions, whatever legal form they take, cannot create new life. They cannot duplicate the love of a man and woman. But they do copy marriage and family, and in the process, they compete with and diminish the uniquely important status of both. The legal battle about marriage will continue. And the Church’s commitment to promote the authentic meaning of marriage and family will be vigorously pursued.”