Western Pennsylvania Freedom to Marry Coalition

Because marriage is a basic human right and individual personal choice,
RESOLVED: the state should not interfere with same-gender couples who choose to marry and share fully and equally in the rights, responsibilities, and committment of civil marriage.

The marriage resolution

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When the Federal Government enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, Rep. Henry Hyde asked the Government Accounting Office to create a report on the federal laws that would be effected. On January 31, the GAO issued this report detailing 1049 new ways that the federal government would now discriminate against its gay and lesbian citizens. (in Adobe Acrobat format)

Western Pennsylvania Endorsees of the Marriage Resolution

Pennsylvania's anti-marriage law history

May 8, 1996, Allan Egolf introduces
anti-marriage legislation in the Pennsylvania state house that would ban same-sex marriages and refuse to recognizes marriages performed in other states. Proper legislative procedures refers the bill to the House Judiciary Committee where it never receives a hearing.

On June 28, 1996 the House considers a bill that would amend Pennsylvania's Domestic Relations Act to allow for grandparents to adopt grandchildren over the objections of their parents. Representative Egolf introduces an amendment to this bill that parallels his pending anti-marriage bill. The Republican controlled state House debated and votedd to add this anti-marriage amendment to the adoption bill. The vote on the amendment was 177-16. The bill, which already passed the State Senate, was sent back for a concurrence vote. After this vote, the House recessed for the summer.

On October 1, 1996, the Republican controlled state Senate voted 43-5 to concur with the anti-marriage language added by the House. Governor Ridge (R) signed the act into law on October 8.

The Western Pennsylvania Freedom to Marry Coalition prepared several fact sheets pointing out the many problems this legislation would create. For example

Here is our press release about the House vote on June 28.

In 1974, the PA Supreme Court decided the case of Estate of Lehnerr v Commonwealth. It is cases like Lehnerr that will be the precedent for deciding whether to recognized Hawaiian same-sex marriages in PA.

The Federal Defense of Marriage Act

On July 12, 1996, the House of Representatives passed the Defense of Marriage Act. The Congressional Record can be searched to find representatives speeches and voting records. To use this search facility, set the keyword to marriage, restrict the search to the House Section and limit the search to the dates 7/11/96 to 7/12/96. Alternatively, here is the Thomas output cut-and-pasted together:

On September 10, the Senate passed DoMA by a vote of 85-14. On September 21, President Clinton signed the act into law. Here is the Senate debate (in Adobe Acrobat format) and from Government Printing Office server (including the vote)

President Clinton issued this statement prior to signing DoMA.

Here is the status of the anti-marriage bill. Lawrence Tribe discusses in the New York Times editorial why this bill is unconstitutional.


Answers to some common questions about marriage for same-sex couples and marriage license requirements for Hawaii.

Our brochure as an Adobe Acrobat file.



Our monthly newsletter is availble on-line and can be read with
Adobe Acrobat.

Religious marriage and civil marriage are two different institutions, although they are often confused with each other. Civil marriage is how the state treats a couple; religious marriage is how particular denominations treat a couple. Just as there are those religions that do not recognize civil divorces, there are also marriages performed by the state that are not sanctified by any religion. Some religions today perform committment ceremonies for same-sex couples, even though these ceremonies have no legal recognition.

John Boswell's final work Same-sex Unions in Premodern Europe documents Christian liturgies and celebrations that honored the unions of same-sex couples. Many of these liturgies make reference to Saints Serge and Bacchus. Boswell translated the original tale, The Passion of Ss. Serge and Bacchus, reproduced here.

Show your support

Pennsylvania Freedom to Marry Coalition t-shirts are now available. The shirt is 100% cotton. The front is our logo , and the back is the marriage resolution. To order, send $12 ($10 + $2 for postage) to WPaFtMC, PO Box 81253, Pittsburgh PA 15217-4257. Please allow several weeks for processing.

Places of interest on the web

  • Eastern PA Freedom to Marry Coalition
  • Central PA Freedom to Marry Coalition
  • Freedom to Marry Coalition homepage
  • Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund is co-counsel in Baehr v Miike, the case in Hawaii.
  • Hawaii Equal Rights Marriage Project websites:
  • The official report of Hawaii's Commission on Sexual Orientation and the Law.
  • Hawaiian same-sex marriage precedent
  • Information about the 30th Anniversary of Loving v Virginia, which legalized marriage for interracial couples.
  • Marriage page
  • Partner's task force page on marriage and related issues

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    Western Pa Freedom to Marry Coalition

    PO Box 81253

    Pittsburgh, PA 15217-4253

    mail to Western PA Freedom to Marry Coalition

    under construction Last updated 7/27/97 by

    Copyright © 1996,1997 Scott A. Safier