Rally in Perry Square Celebrates Strike Down of PA Same-Sex Marr - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Rally in Perry Square Celebrates Strike Down of PA Same-Sex Marriage Ban

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On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled the same-sex marriage ban in Pennsylvania as unconstitutional.

Read the ruling.

More than 100 supporters celebrated on Tuesday evening in Perry Square, after Harrisburg judge John Jones struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. Now, gay and lesbian couples can get married in Pennsylvania.

"It means absolutely everything," said Kathy Czarnecki-Smith of Erie, at the rally with her wife, Tina Czarnecki-Smith. The couple married in New York State two years ago. Now, that union is recognized here in their home state.

"I don't think you realize until this right has been granted what an amazing feeling it is, to know that our marriage is now legal," Kathy said.


Erie handed out the first same-sex marriage certificate at the county courthouse earlier on Tuesday, and those in Perry Square celebrated with stories, hugs, and rainbow sherbet.

But not all organizations are pleased with the court's decision.

President of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, Michael Geer, says“Children have a right to a mother and a father... Today’s decision abandons that responsibility in favor of a new framework that places the desires of adults above the good of children and society as a whole," he said in a press release.

However, at least one pastor in Erie has a response.
"I would encourage my religious brothers and sisters to understand there is a powerful difference between legal marriage and spiritual marriage," said Rich McCarthy, senior pastor for the Community United Church. "While every single church, synagogue, or temple has the right to define spiritual marriage for themselves,  they do not have the right to define legal marriage for the United States," McCarthy said.

Similar same-sex marriage bans were also struck down in Arkansas, Idaho, and Oregon earlier in May. Pennsylvania makes the 18th state that allows gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Much of the LGBT community hopes the trend will spread across the country.

"I think this will continue going state by state. Eventually it will reach the US Supreme Court and I'm certain this will become a nationwide thing before much longer," said Mike Mahler, president of the NW PA Pride Alliance, and a rally organizer.

Now, 44 percent of the nation's population lives in an area where same-sex marriage is legal.
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