History made in May
"I think same sex couples should be allowed to get married."
With those words, President Barack Obama in May became the first sitting president to openly declare support for equal marriage rights for gay Americans.
Immediately, Democratic Party leaders boosted momentum by fashioning a pro-gay marriage plank for September's political convention. The U. S. military has taken a leadership role, too.
Six states and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage. Other states have voted it down. But the tide is shifting.
"I believe that one day very soon the platforms of both major parties will include similar language on this issue," says Chad Griffin, president, Human Rights Campaign.
As for the Libertarian Party, their 2012 platform puts it this way: "Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government's treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships."
Still, the U. S. lags behind many other countries on the issue. Canada legalized gay marriage nationwide in 2005.
When it comes to marriage equality, a poll of local Pennsylvania lawmakers reveals a less embracing attitude:
Pa. Sen. David Argall, R-29: "Most of the attention on this issue has been at the national level, not here in Pennsylvania, and this subject rarely comes up at town hall meetings in this district. I have always supported the traditional definition of marriage and I will continue to do so. In Harrisburg, I suspect we will continue to focus on more critical issues, like welfare reform initiatives and job creation efforts."
Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-124: "l've always viewed marriage as a holy union between a man and a woman. I mean no disrespect to anyone, but that is and will always be my belief."
Pa. Sen. John Yudichak, D-14: "I continue to support and believe that marriage should be defined as the union of one man and one woman. However, I also strongly believe no one should be subject to discrimination based on their race, gender or sexual orientation. Civil unions that afford equal rights and benefits under law can be an effective way prevent discrimination and address marriage equality."
There was no response to inquiries sent two times to Rep. Neal Goodman, D-123 and Rep. Doyle Heffley, R-122.