From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Yet two recent polls have found that support for same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania is rising near or above 50 percent. For the first time since Muhlenberg College started polling on gay marriage, most Pennsylvanians indicated in December 2011 that they believe same-sex marriage should be legal. Susquehanna Polling and Research found earlier in 2011 that Pennsylvanians support legislation banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by a 2-to-1 ratio.
State Rep. Babette Josephs, D-Philadelphia, credited President Obama’s May announcement in support of gay marriage for spurring dialogue among lawmakers and voters who had once opposed it. Mr. Barack Obama described how he changed his mind on marriage as he grew to know gay friends, soldiers and staff members in committed relationships.
“When Pennsylvanians call themselves conservative, I don’t believe they mean nastiness, discrimination, hate,” Ms. Josephs said. “They mean let’s be fair, let’s take things a little slowly and think about them. And that’s what happened when the president opened the conversation in the way that he did.”
This is part of a rather sweeping piece about marriage equality, starting with the attempts by a local lesbian couple to sign up with the “domestic partner registery” offered by the City of Pittsburgh and ending with the Mayor’s support for marriage equality.
Along the way, the reporter delves into the politics of “marriage protection” amendments, the impact of equality on economic and workforce development and the national prominence of a native son (Evan Wolfson) in the marriage equality discussion.
Josephs’ spin on the “conservative” nature of Pennsylvania residents is intriguing. I agree that the President paved the way for more dialogue and I agree that social conservatives want to take things slowly, but not “let’s be fair.” I suspect it is a weird fusion of ”live and let live” libertarian values with conservative religious values that define the areas where someone should tell us how to live (namely, the Christian God and his emissaries.)
The incremental approach would explain the changing attitudes – more Pennsylvanians are getting to know LGBTQ persons, both in real life and through entertainment. The same disconnect exists in the Catholic Church – as the church itself becomes less tolerant, American Catholics move to the left.
Notice the parallel between the church and the Pennsylvania state?
As I’ve said before, passing the non-discrimination legislation should be paramount. HB 300 would give all LGBTQ persons protection in the workplace, housing and with public accomodations whereas marriage equality typically benefits lesbians and gay men and bisexual men & women in same sex relationships. HB 300 is the lynchpin to make a significant advance for our community.
Another good job from the Post-Gazette. I wish they would be a little more consistent in the fairness & accuracy of their reporting, but we’re working on that. Let me know if you pick up on the elements I’m referencing.