Mark Segal

Tom Corbett Deserves Thanks for PA Marriage Equality

Filed By Mark Segal | June 02, 2014 3:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: gay marriage, marriage equality, Pennsylvania, same-sex marriage, Tom Corbett

aclu-pennsylvania-corbett-marriage.jpgI'd like to believe that LGBT people are a community that gives appreciation where it is just. And we need to recognize and give thanks to those involved in the victory that secured marriage equality in Pennsylvania.

First and foremost, thanks to Judge John Jones, who wrote one of the strongest opinions on marriage equality I've ever read. If you have not read it, you should -- click here to do so.

Next, thanks go to Gov. Tom Corbett, who decided not to appeal the ruling, thus saving Pennsylvanians from what might have been years of litigation.

This is a thank-you for doing the right thing -- and doing so even after the Archbishop of Philadelphia and the chairman of the state Republican Party advised him to appeal that very day. It was a gutsy move.

But the thank-yous do not end there. The American Civil Liberties Union was brilliant as usual, and Mark Aronchick, you and your partners are community treasures.

But the ultimate decision on whether this would be a contentious fight through the courts or finally settled came down to Governor Corbett, and here, there are some other players who need to be thanked.

As you read in this column a few months ago, several of us met with Corbett at the governor's residence in Harrisburg to discuss LGBT issues. One of the points the governor made at that meeting was about his LGBT staffers. What he didn't mention, but what I know as someone who has dealt closely with the governor's office over the last four years to create the John C. Anderson LGBT-friendly senior affordable apartments, was that not only does he have LGBT staffers, but many of his non-LGBT staffers might be considered allies. And if I were a betting man, I'd bet that Corbett's family was in our corner as well.

So when the governor finally received the opinion from his legal staff, his decision was one that he had been considering for months. He did this by discussions with family, friends, and staff.

We can agree to disagree with the governor on many issues, but here he made the right and honorable decision. He did so by getting to know LGBT people. And that, in a big way, is about his LGBT staffers coming out and speaking openly with him over the last few months. Part of this victory is the power of being out.

It has always been a belief of mine that our community has to just show ourselves to the general public. When we do that, they see we are no threat, that we want the same things that they desire out of life: good health, a decent income, and someone to share our lives with.

Oh, and here's a fun fact: We should also give a nod to virulently anti-gay former Sen. Rick Santorum -- for endorsing Judge Jones for the bench.

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