Why Marriage Matters Pennsylvania http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org Fri, 23 May 2014 15:45:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.9 It’s official: Love is the law in Pennsylvania! http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/official/ http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/official/#comments Wed, 21 May 2014 19:29:07 +0000 http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/?p=410 It’s official: Love is the law in Pennsylvania!

Just moments ago, Governor Corbett announced that he will not be appealing yesterday’s landmark ruling striking down Pennsylvania’s marriage ban!

This is a huge relief and means that weeks, months and years of hard work have finally paid off. Now thousands of happy couples in the Keystone State have the freedom to marry the one they love—and it can’t be taken away.

To celebrate this historic moment, join us as we share the graphic below:

Today Gov. Corbett stood with the strong majority of Pennsylvanians when he decided to err on the side of love and allow the decision by U.S. District Court Judge John Jones III to go forward.

Perhaps he took Judge Jones’ words to heart when he said, “We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”

Today, we can close this painful chapter in Pennsylvania and look towards our new present: where all people are treated equally and have the freedom to marry the one they love.

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BREAKING: Pennsylvania’s marriage ban ruled unconstitutional http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/rulingblog/ http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/rulingblog/#comments Tue, 20 May 2014 18:44:13 +0000 http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/?p=396 Love Wins FB

A federal judge just ruled that Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional!

This is amazing news. The judge did not issue a stay, so same-sex couples will be able to apply for marriage licenses today.

To celebrate this momentous ruling, we’re hosting Decision Day rallies all across the state. Click here to join us for a Decision Day rally in a city near you.

Today is a day we won’t ever forget. And we owe a great many thanks to all of our amazing supporters who volunteered, took action and helped start the critical conversations, swayed the hearts and minds of fellow Pennsylvanians and made it clear: it’s time for marriage equality in the Keystone State.

While it’s too early to break out the wedding bells just yet—there’s no reason we can’t start celebrating this landmark decision now.

Join us at a Decision Day Rally tonight to celebrate today’s huge victory! Just click here to find an event in a city near you.

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TONIGHT: Join us at a Decision Day Rally! http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/todayrally/ http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/todayrally/#comments Tue, 20 May 2014 14:14:14 +0000 http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/?p=383 decsiondayfb520

We just got word that today, a federal judge is expected to issue a ruling in the landmark lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

In just a matter of hours, we may very well know the fate of the freedom to marry in Pennsylvania—and we may be closer than ever to securing a historic victory for all loving couples in the Keystone State.

Tonight, after the marriage decision has been issued, join fellow Pennsylvanians at Decision Day rallies across the state! Just click here to find the location nearest you.

Today is the day that so many supporters like you have been fighting for. And in just a matter of hours, Pennsylvania’s harmful ban on marriage for same-sex couples may finally be ruled unconstitutional.

It’s not often that you begin the day knowing that what happens in the coming hours may forever change the course of history—but that’s exactly what’s at stake today.

We’ll let you know the moment the judge issues a decision on Pennsylvania’s marriage ban. And in the meantime, please plan to join us at one of four Decision Day Rallies across the state!

Click here to RSVP for a rally now—and be sure to invite your friends to be a part of this historic day!

Hopefully soon, we’re all celebrating what will be a landmark day in Pennsylvania’s journey to the freedom to marry.

 

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Meet Pennsylvania Moms: Denise Parke and Olivia Walters http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/denise-olivia/ http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/denise-olivia/#comments Fri, 09 May 2014 15:04:18 +0000 http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/?p=368 Olivia1

When I met Denise in 2006, I knew right away it was love. But it wasn’t long after we met that Denise, a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard, left for basic training. It was tough, knowing I couldn’t be near the person I was falling in love. But we wrote letters to each other constantly—and despite the distance, it was during that time that I felt that I grew closer to Denise than ever.

After two amazing years together, we finally wed in front of family and friends, including Denise’s 10-year-old daughter Keisha. But, only two weeks after our wedding, Denise was deployed to Iraq, leaving my new stepdaughter Keisha and I to live together.

I had never been a parent before, and I have to admit, it was so intimidating at first! But Keisha and I bonded quickly. We cooked dinners together, I helped her with her homework and we even bought furniture together for the apartment we would move into once Denise returned from Iraq. It was my first real, authentic experience as a mom and I felt so proud that Keisha trusted me to be her parent, in addition to Denise. It was the most incredible feeling I have ever felt, to see her look up at me and smile, for her to grab my hand as we walk through the store, to be responsible for this amazing child. It was a love I didn’t know I could feel—a mother’s love.

Years have passed and Keisha is 16 now. Denise finished up her service with the National Guard, and we are finally living as a happy family at our home in Lancaster.  Together, we’re facing the challenges and joys of raising a teenager head-on—teaching Keisha how to drive, shopping for school clothes and getting ready for summer vacation, just like any other family.

olivia 2

But in Pennsylvania, we aren’t treated like any other family. In the Keystone State, I am a legal stranger to Denise and Keisha. And without the freedom to marry—and the protections only marriage can provide—I have no way to protect my wife and daughter in case of an emergency. And it is terrifying, to say the least. We’ve built a family together, we’re raising a daughter together, and we are a family—but Pennsylvania’s marriage ban stands in the way of my family being respected.

This Mother’s Day, I ask you to think of the mothers out there, like myself, who love their child with all their heart, but cannot protect them until same-sex couples can share in the freedom to marry.  Only by bringing marriage equality to Pennsylvania can families like ours can finally be whole.

CLICK HERE to sign the pledge to move marriage forward in Pennsylvania. 

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Meet Pennsylvania Moms: Amy Brown and Robin Emswiler http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/amy-robin/ http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/amy-robin/#comments Fri, 09 May 2014 15:02:19 +0000 http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/?p=364 amybrown1

Amy Brown met Robin Emswiler when they lived on an Army Base in Washington State. Amy was the pre-school teacher for Robin’s daughter, and the pair quickly fell in love.

They joined together as a family soon after, and Amy moved to Pennsylvania, where Robin is from, to be with her. Amy has two sons, Jessie and Clayton, while Robin has two daughters, Alexis and Maddie.

Both Robin and Amy consider being a mom is the best thing in the world. Though motherhood has its ups and downs, Robin and Amy have always prioritized keeping their family close and protected.

They know that they only way to truly protect their children is through marriage. Since Pennsylvania does not have the freedom to marry, Robin and Amy are treated as legal strangers–an unable to protect all of their children.

Despite their legal marriage that was held in Washington D.C., Pennsylvania does not treated them as wife and wife. Our state does not recognize legal marriages performed out of state, so Robin and Amy are still seen as legal strangers.

“Sometimes look at other couples who don’t even get along and have to realize ours family is not recognized even though we love each other so and have really built a great family,” Robin said. “Its not fair to my family or to us. We’ve worked hard to put this family together, and our children are still at risk. As mother’s, all we want is to see our kids protected and safe. Just because we are a same-sex couples, we cannot be the parents we want to be.”

Amy Brown and Robin Emswiler are mothers of four and run a daycare center.

CLICK HERE to sign the pledge to move marriage forward in Pennsylvania. 

 

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Meet Pennsylvania Moms: Julie Miller http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/julie-miller/ http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/julie-miller/#comments Fri, 09 May 2014 14:59:17 +0000 http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/?p=360 Julie Miller

This Mother’s Day will be a completely different one for me. I am the doting, proud, grandmother of 4 exquisite, fantastic, brilliant, kids. Last year at this time I had three from my son and daughter-in-law and was awaiting the birth of our fourth. Everything changed when darling Zivah was born to my daughter and her wife.

They had decided to move to Philadelphia from New York to be closer to us, buy a home in West Philly and start a family. They left legal married life in Brooklyn and now, as they return to the state we all call home, they face discrimination and heartache as Pennsylvania doesn’t recognize their legal marriage.

This devoted couple (my daughter-in-law is an inner city emergency room doctor while my daughter is an educator for a non-profit benefitting Philadelphia high school students) had to face daunting obstacles in their relationship as parents and citizens. My daughter-in-law had to jump through legal hoops and adopt her own daughter,file reams of papers to become her legal co-parent. A married couple of the opposite sex have no barriers marring their life as a family. Why should my darling granddaughter not benefit from her loving family?

Her daring parents are now in a lawsuit sponsored by the ACLU challenging DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. This legal challenge will end an unjust law. Hopefully soon citizens like them will be welcomed into our commonwealth. This Mother’s Day little Zivah is doubly blessed with two mothers to celebrate.

CLICK HERE to sign the pledge to move marriage forward in Pennsylvania. 

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We’re hiring: Marriage campaign organizer http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/hiring/ http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/hiring/#comments Wed, 07 May 2014 21:48:51 +0000 http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/?p=357 WHY MARRIAGE MATTERS PENNSYLVANIA

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT: Marriage Campaign Organizer (Temporary Position)

Hiring

About Why Marriage Matters Pennsylvania

Why Marriage Matters Pennsylvania is a grassroots public education campaign to build support for the freedom to marry in Pennsylvania. This campaign is about sharing stories and fostering conversation – showing that every gay and lesbian person is a part of someone’s family and should be treated with compassion and respect. This project is being coordinated by the ACLU of Pennsylvania Foundation and Freedom to Marry

American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania
The position is sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Pennsylvania and housed in its Philadelphia office. The ACLU of Pennsylvania is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership organization dedicated to defending and expanding individual rights and personal freedoms throughout the entire state of Pennsylvania. Through advocacy, public education and litigation, our staff and volunteers work to preserve and enhance liberties grounded in the United States and Pennsylvania constitutions and civil rights laws.

Position Description

Why Marriage Matters PA has an immediate opening for a full-time Marriage Campaign Position is for duration of 2014 with possibility of extension. We are looking for an experienced community organizer to conduct public education efforts to increase support for marriage for same-sex couples in Pennsylvania.

The Marriage Campaign Organizer will work with national partners and local staff to develop and implement a plan for earned media, field, and coalition involvement with demonstrable goals and timelines.

Supported by national press and social media teams, an emphasis will be placed on creating opportunities to demonstrate public support and to publicize stories of individuals, couples and “unlikely” supporters including Republicans, business leaders, elected officials and others through earned and social media. The Marriage Campaign Organizer will be responsible for identifying and collecting personal stories of support, as well as conducting outreach to new coalition partners, community leaders and strategic partners. 

This position reports to the Campaign Manager and requires regular reporting and tracking of campaign progress.

Qualifications

  • Minimum two years campaign experience, including public education, legislative advocacy and/or candidate campaigns
  • Experience developing written plans and provide regular reporting
  • Skill leading public engagement, including experience managing town hall events or providing community trainings
  • Demonstrated experience building and managing coalition relationships
  • History of intentional outreach to leaders of business, clergy, or Republican communities preferred
  • History of outreach to individual or organizational leaders among communities of color preferred
  • Ability to work in fast-paced environment and manage multiple priorities
  • Ability to work independently, with strong time management skills
  • Ability to travel frequently in-state
  • Strong desire for win the freedom to marry and commitment to LGBT equality

Timeline

Position available immediately. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

Compensation

Salary commensurate with experience. Benefits negotiable.

The position is open to all qualified applicants regardless of race, ethnicity and national origin, age, gender, physical ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, HIV status, and religious affiliation.

To apply

Send cover letter and resume electronically to: Amy Mello at Amy@FreedomtoMarry.org

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Join us at a rally on Decision Day! http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/decisiondayblog/ http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/decisiondayblog/#comments Mon, 28 Apr 2014 18:10:57 +0000 http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/?p=351 Decision Day FBAfter lawyers asked for a ruling without trial last week, the landmark case to win the freedom to marry in Pennsylvania could be decided any time after May 12.

We don’t know when or how a judge will rule, but when a decision is made—we want to be ready.

That’s why, on whatever day a ruling is issued, we are hosting Decision Day rallies all across the state where we hope to celebrate a favorable ruling for marriage equality!

Will you join us at one of our Decision Day rallies the day a ruling is made? Click here to select the city closest to you and we will give you more details the day a decision is made.

This has been a long time coming, but victory is finally within reach! I don’t want to get your hopes up, but if we get a favorable ruling, this could mean that thousands of loving and committed couples in the Commonwealth will be one historic step closer to finally having the freedom to marry in the state we all call home.

This will be a historic day for Pennsylvania and the country. So why spend it alone?

Meet ups will be held at the following locations:

  • Erie: Perry Square, 7pm
  • Harrisburg: Capitol Building Steps, 6pm
  • Lehigh Valley: TBA
  • Philadelphia: City Hall, 6pm
  • Pittsburgh: 5800 Block of Ellsworth Avenue, 7pm

Join us at a rally on Decision Day. Click here to receive breaking news of the decision, and plan to join us at an event near you!

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BIG NEWS: Challenge to Pennsylvania’s Marriage Ban Put On Fast-Track http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/fasttrack/ http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/fasttrack/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 15:48:04 +0000 http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/?p=333 Fast Track TwitterToday, lawyers representing the plaintiffs challenging Pennsylvania’s marriage ban in Whitewood v. Wolf filed a motion asking a federal judge to decide the case on the briefs alone, rather than waiting for a trial in June.

This means that a judge could rule on the future of the freedom to marry in the Commonwealth as early as next month!

The lawsuit is brought on behalf of one window, 11 couples who wish to marry, or want the commonwealth to recognize their out-of-state marriages, and two teenage children of one of the plaintiff couples. They are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the American Civil Liberties Union, volunteer counsel from the law firm Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller, and University of Pennsylvania School of Law Professor Seth Kreimer.

According to a press release by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania:

“A trial became unnecessary after the commonwealth stated that it will not call any experts to counter the plaintiffs’ argument that there is no rational reason why lesbian and gay couples are excluded from marriage, nor does it plan to dispute the specific harms caused to the plaintiffs by the marriage ban. All legal papers in the case will be filed by May 12, meaning a ruling could come at any time after that date.”

Additionally, the lawyers also submitted written testimony to the presiding judge on the hardships same-sex couples face in estate planning, taxes, health care, and family law, as well as an expert report on the economic harms to the state caused by Pennsylvania’s marriage ban.

Pennsylvania, which has agreed that the case does not need to go to a trial and will not dispute the facts—that denial of marriage harms same-sex couples and their families—will also file a summary judgment today.

Now that this case is on the fast-track, we want to show the judge and the people of Pennsylvania that we have the plaintiffs’ backs—and that Pennsylvania is ready for marriage!

Will you sign our pledge in support of the plaintiffs seeking the freedom to marry in Pennsylvania? Click here to add your name.

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An additional headache for same-sex couples in Pennsylvania http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/headache/ http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/headache/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 21:21:03 +0000 http://www.whymarriagematterspa.org/?p=312  

JulieOpEd

Tax Day is today—and as many families are filling out a dizzying array of tax forms before the deadline hits, married same-sex couples across Pennsylvania face additional hurdles because the state of Pennsylvania does not respect their marriage.

In an Op-Ed in PennLive, Julia Lobur—one of the plaintiff couples in a federal suit challenging laws in Pennsylvania that deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry—describes her complicated ordeal while trying to file her taxes.

“The federal form went smoothly and was done in about 40 minutes. Married, filing joint. Yay!

The nightmare began when we got to the state forms. The tax software couldn’t understand that we were married according to federal forms but not according to our state forms.”

Julia then explains how it took her tax preparer weeks to finally figure out how to file Pennsylvania taxes for a couple who is married in the eyes of the federal government but not married according to state law.

Julia and her wife Marla are not alone. Thousands of couples in Pennsylvania have legally married in one of the 17 states or Washington, D.C. where all couples can marry. But because the Commonwealth refuses to recognize marriages of same-sex couples—these couples are forced to jump through unnecessary hoops just to do something as mundane as file their yearly tax statement.

And it’s more than just a headache or additional burden: Same-sex couples are also prevented from receiving the same financial protections that only come with filing taxes jointly, costing them thousands of dollars more each year in taxes than all other married couples.

But above all else, the toll is a personal one: After 23 years together, including five years with a legal marriage license, Julia and Marla deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect that is afforded to all other married couples.

“[We feel like we] are liars every time we are forced to check the ‘single’ block on official documents for health care or state and local taxes,” Julia explains in the op-ed. “No one deserves the humiliation of having one’s most important relationship denied and dishonored by the state.”

Click here to sign our petition calling on the state of Pennsylvania to recognize all legally married couples.

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