C.J. Marshall: Significa: It would have happened eventually
Well, it's finally happened, same-sex marriage is now legal throughout Pennsylvania.
I'll confess I wasn't expecting it to occur quite so quickly. Gov. Tom Corbett and certain other conservative elements throughout Pennsylvania have stated they believe the only legitimate union is between a man and a woman, and were even attempting to have a state constitutional amendment be passed to cement that fact. I won't begrudge them their opinion - that's their right - but regular readers will know that I hold a different view on the matter.
It was once again proved this past week that federal law will always trump state law if the two are in conflict. A federal judge hearing the case ruled that Pennsylvania's 1996 law requiring two people getting married each be of the opposite sex is unconstitutional. Gov. Corbett, to his credit, has said he will not fight the matter further - even though he personally disagrees with the decision - and so same-sex marriage is now legal in Pennsylvania as well as 19 other states.
I think this is something we would have ultimately faced regardless of how the federal court ruled on the matter. Other states are now recognizing same-sex marriages, so how would we have handled same-sex couples who got married out of state and then moved to Pennsylvania to live. New York, for example, allows same-sex marriages. If a gay couple living in Sayre obtained a marriage license in Owego, N.Y. for example, and got married in a civil ceremony in Waverly, how would we treat their relationship, particularly if they continued to live in Pennsylvania. How could we in good conscious say we don't recognize their marriage, when any man and woman who are Pennsylvania residents could perform the same act in New York and have it carry the same full legal weight as if they tied the knot in the commonwealth. Such discrimination is not only unfair it just doesn't make sense.
This is not the first time the federal government has stepped in and overruled the states on a marriage question. I'm old enough to remember when racial tensions gripped this nation, and mixed relationships were frowned upon in many areas of the country. The matter came to a head in 1967 when Virginia passed a law forbidding the marriage between a black person and white person. But as I said, the federal courts stepped in saying, in essence, "No, you can't do that," explaining in the ruling that it is the right of two adults to be allowed to marry whomever they please, and no government - whether local, state or federal - can pass a law interfering with that right. In fact, the federal court's ruling on that question was one of the cornerstones in the recent arguments which convinced the judge that same-sex marriages should be permitted in Pennsylvania.
The question of gay marriage has been a long, hard row to hoe, and it will continue to remain a difficult situation which we will have to continue to address. That's because ignorance, prejudice and bigotry never completely go away, no matter how much we might wish otherwise. But in the meantime, I wish all same-sex couples in Pennsylvania that have been wanting to tie the knot congratulations in finally receiving the same rights as heterosexual folks, and may you enjoy good fortune in building life-long partnerships.
C.J Marshall is a writer/columnist for The Daily Review. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.