Central Voice

Linking LGBT Communities In Central Pennsylvania And Beyond

Assist, promote LGBT communities and their supporters through social networks that strive to enhance communication, acceptance,equality.

Here's Our July/August 2015 Print Edition

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Terry Drew Karanen posted a blog post

Default Thinking

How easy it is for you to change your opinion? It can be a very difficult thing to do if an opinion has been cultivated over time, often as a result of what other people have convinced us is the truth.I once knew a woman who thought “The National Inquirer” was gospel. If she read something in that newspaper it was fact. It seemed ridiculous to me, even naïve. Unfortunately, that same line of thinking is seen today in what people believe after reading something on the Internet, see shared via…See More
Jun 29
Andrea Glass updated their profile
Jun 24
Andrea Glass is now a member of Central Voice
Jun 24
Terry Drew Karanen posted a blog post

Rewards and Consequences

Whether or not we are aware of it, the Universal Law of Cause and Effect operates at all times in our lives. Our thoughts, both conscious and unconscious, are constantly forming our reality. The results of those thoughts produce what we think are rewards and consequences. It is our ego that is into judging, not the Universe. We judge some outcomes and situations as rewards, sometimes even miracles. Other results we deem consequences or occasionally disasters. It is easiest to understand this…See More
Jun 21
Sheila Y. Noss is now a member of Central Voice
Jun 20
Terry Drew Karanen posted a blog post

Snap Outta It!

Are you longing – even pining – for that one thing that will make everything perfect? Well stop it. It ain’t happening, sugar plum.Forgive me if this week’s blog is a little more “in your face” than normal. It’s meant to be offered in love, but it’s a tougher love than I’m normally known for. As I write this piece I realize there is an area of my life that is not just stagnate, but actually quite dead with apparently no desire for a resurrection.…See More
Jun 15
Harrisburg Gay Men's Chorus posted an event
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VOICES UNITED 2015 at Market Square Presbyterian Church

July 24, 2015 from 8pm to 10pm
Voices United is a showcase for the various LGBTQ and Allied Choruses of the Harrisburg area. It is an evening of music that expresses the deepest sentiments of the individual groups that comprise the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning communities and explores our common experiences with our Straight allies.  This year the evening will add a new feature, highlighting local solo talents from our area, along with the various choruses.  Voices United is a musical celebration of…See More
Jun 13
Terry Drew Karanen posted a blog post

Giving Away Our Power

Is your life affected by the actions of others? More specifically, are you allowing someone else to stop you from having the life you want?Madisyn Taylor recently wrote, Often, when we’re unhappy, we fall into the habit of thinking that, if only one or two particular things in our life would change, everything would be fine. As she goes on to point out, that’s only true a small part of the time.Perhaps we are single, lonely and have little spendable income. We might think that if we had more…See More
Jun 8

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Local Reactions: Marriage - It's the Law Nationwide but PA Still Needs Basic LGBT Civil Rights Protections

Local Reactions: Marriage - It's the Law Nationwide but PA Still Needs Basic LGBT Civil Rights Protections

By Central Voice

It's all over but the shoutin'.

At least as far as marriage is concerned but, according to local LGBT leaders, there is work that remains to be done. There are no basic civil rights protections in Pennsylvania for LGBT taxpayers.

Regarding marriage equality, the US Supreme Court's decision today (June 26, 2015) in the Obergefell V. Hodges case essentially makes same-sex marriage the law of the land. In a divided 5-4 decision, the justices ruled that the Constitution requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and, if not, they must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states where such unions are legal.

Same-sex couples succeeded in having court declare that gay and lesbian couples can marry anywhere in the United States. Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee had asked the court to uphold bans on same-sex marriage and allow the political process, not the courts, to handle major societal changes. When today's decision was made, same-sex couples could already marry in 36 states.

Pennsylvania's law banning same-sex marriage was overturned in May 2014 by U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, a Nixon appointee. At the time, the now beleaguered state Attorney General Kathleen Kane, with her own legal problems mounting, called it unconstitutional and refused to raise defense.

The state law was passed in 1996 under the tutelage of then-Gov. Tom Ridge, who has since "evolved" into supporting same-sex unions. When Jones overturned the state law, Pennsylvania was the last remaining state in the Northeast to outlaw gay marriage. The right of Keystone State residents to marry is the result of a court decision, not an intentional act by the General Assembly to provide civil right.

Today's affirmative ruling comes on the two-year anniversary of the June 2013 U.S. v. Windsor case which defeated the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional because the law denied married, gay couples federal benefits. At that same interval, the court also tossed California's Proposition 8, a voter referendum that challenged that state's law. Finally, June 28, 1969 marks the date of The Stonewall Riots, when patrons of a mafia-run gay bar in Greenwich Village, The Stonewall Inn, erupted when yet another raid took place. The history-changing moment was the result of transsexuals and drag queen patrons finally saying "Enough is enough," setting into motion four days of raucus street fights between police and hundreds of city residents. Earlier this week, June 23, the Stonewall Inn was granted state and federal status as an official historic landmark.

Yet with progress made on marriage, legislative work remains for LGBT Pennsylvanians and their allies.

“It's a truly great day when every person in America is treated equally when it comes to marrying the person you love," Ted Martin, executive director, Equality PA said about the court's decision, although he noted "the victory is bittersweet here in Pennsylvania, because, as most Pennsylvanians are shocked to learn, it is still legal to fired from your job, turned away from a business, or evicted from an apartment just because of who you are or who you love."

Martin's concern reflects Equality PA's number one priority moving forward - to update the state's discrimination laws to be sure that all people, including LGBT people, are protected from all kinds of discrimination." He is referring to a twin set of bills that have been re-introduced in both the state House and state Senate, HB 300 and SB 300 which add LGBT protections to the state's Human Relations Act.

Louie Marven, executive director, LGBT Center of Central PA, says, "It's great that queer people who want to get married will be able to do so regardless of where they live in the U.S." Marven too advises that it's now time "to turn all the attention and resources that have been poured into the marriage equality movement into supporting the most vulnerable of our communities."

This next step toward nondiscrimination in Pennsylvania is important, Marven says, because "it has to do with protecting all LGBT people. Everyone needs to be able to earn a living and find a home, and if discrimination takes place we need to have legal recourse."

John Folby, who writes The History Project for Central Voice, says he is ..." elated that the US is proactive in following other world leaders." Same-sex marriage or civil unions are legal in more than 20 nations worldwide.

On basic civil rights, Folby says, "We must continue to keep these measures like House Bill 300 and Senate Bill 300 on our radar. We must vote when it's time to get out the vote, remind state legislators that our LGBT vote means something and that we demand protection in employment and public accommodations." He does not want to "pass the baton to the next generation of  advocates and activists. We want to see basic civil rights protections provided in our lifetime."

 

Members

Blog Posts

Can I Trust You?

Posted by Terry Drew Karanen on July 6, 2015 at 8:50pm

Default Thinking

Posted by Terry Drew Karanen on June 29, 2015 at 12:02pm

Rewards and Consequences

Posted by Terry Drew Karanen on June 21, 2015 at 2:04pm

Judge Voids PA Anti-gay Marriage Law; Rallies Held Statewide

Judge Voids PA Anti-gay Marriage Law; Rallies Held Statewide

Harrisburg City Hall Open for Marriage Ceremonies

By Central Voice

 

About 100 people rallied on the steps of the State Capital Building at 6 p.m. tonight celebrating a federal judge overturning Pennsylvania's 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that banned same-sex marriage.

More photos below.

Federal Middle District Judge John E. Jones III ruled earlier today (May 20, 2014) that Pennsylvania's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.

 

Jones' ruling overturns the state's 1996 Defense of Marriage Act prohibiting gay marriage and banning recognition of gay marriages performed in states where same-sex marriage is legal.

 

Jones' decision means that Pennsylvanians can legally marry in the state and have their marriages which were performed in other states recognized. The prohibition against same-sex marriages in Pennsylvania has ended.

 

Twelve other federal courts have also struck down laws prohibiting same-sex marriage. On Monday (May 19, 2014), Oregon overturned its law banning gay marriage, bringing to 18, now 19 with Pennsylvania's decision, the number of states allowing same-sex unions. Also today the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered expedited review of a federal district court’s decision that overturned Idaho’s ban on marriage equality. At the same time, the court put the lower court’s decision on hold until the appeal is completed. This month is also the 10th anniversary of Massachusetts allowing gay marriage.

 

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse said he welcomes the ruling. “This is an historic ruling and one that I wholeheartedly welcome,” he said. “The doors of City Hall are open to all couples who want to wed.”

 

Although there is a three-day waiting period in Pennsylvania between getting a license and completing the ceremony, Dauphin County's Register of Wills and Clerk of Orphans' Court Jean Marfizo King said she is ready for a potential influx of couples seeking licenses.

 

The case, Whitewood v. Wolf, was filed July 9, 2013, on behalf of 23 Pennsylvanians who wish to marry in Pennsylvania or want the commonwealth to recognize their out-of-state marriages.

 

The lawsuit alleged that the state's Defense of Marriage Act and refusal to marry lesbian and gay couples or recognize their out-of-state marriages violates the fundamental right to marry as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The lawsuit came in the wake of the ACLU's victory before the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Windsor, which requires federal recognition for lesbian and gay couples who are married in their home states.

 

Plaintiffs argued that the court should closely scrutinize this discriminatory treatment because the state's Defense of Marriage Act burdens the fundamental right to marry and because it discriminates based on sex and sexual orientation.

 

Julie Lobur and Marla Cattermole were among 23 people challenging Pennsylvania's anti-same-sex marriage law in court. Central Voice photo

 

Local Harrisburg couple Marla Cattermole and Julie Lobur were among those challenging Pennsylvania's law in court.  Lobur's partner of 28 years, Cattermole said told Central Voice last September,"...we'd like our relationship legally recognized." They are legally married in the state of Iowa. With today's decision, their marriage is now recognized.

 

In his ruling, Jones wrote: "In the sixty years since Brown was decided, ‘separate’ has thankfully faded into history, and only ‘equal’ remains. Similarly, in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage. We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”

 

Katie Somers, Communications Chair for the Capital Region Stonewall Democrats said, "despite many rallies and being a proud activist, today is a day that I've waiting for many years but honestly, didn't think I would necessarily see marriage equality in Pennsylvania in my lifetime. Once the clerks are ready, I will get my marriage license and legally marry my wife."

 

State Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who declined to defend the state law, says she won't appeal today's decision. "Inequality in any form is unacceptable and it has never stood the test of time," she said.

 

A spokesman for Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said he was "still reviewing the opinion and once the review is complete we'll share his response."

 

Harrisburg Diocese's newly appointed Bishop Ronald Gainer called the ruling "a redefinition of God's law."

 

Rallies were held in Harrisburg, Erie, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. About 100 people attended the Harrisburg rally held on the steps of the State Capital building.

 

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Local Response to Indiana's Religious Freedom Protection Act

See full story in May-June issue now available at local drop-off locations.

"The truth is that people in Pennsylvania are shocked to learn that it is still legal in our state to discriminate against gay and transgender people," Ted Martin, executive director, Equality PA, explains as he reflects on what happened last March in Indiana when that state passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

 

"So what went on in Indiana helps us make sure that people know we need to update Pennsylvania's discrimination laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity," Martin says.

 

Martin note that "The intense and severe backlash against Indiana also serves as an example that discrimination is not the way to move your state forward economically, and I think that our leaders in the state capitol will pay attention to that message."

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