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Hosts: Scott LaMar and Mary Wilson

Smart Talk: PA same-sex marriage ban struck down

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | May 20, 2014 2:01 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, May 21, 2014:

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History was made in Pennsylvania Tuesday when federal Judge John Jones struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriages. 

In his ruling, Judge Jones found Pennsylvania's 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, that recognized marriage between two people of the opposite sex only was unconstitutional.  Jones said that not allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry or recognize their out-of-state marriages violates the fundamental right to marry -- and, by discriminating based on sexual orientation, Equal Protection guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Read the ruling here.

Couples can begin to apply for marriage licenses immediately.

Pennsylvania is one 19 states and the District of Columbia where same-sex marriage is now legal.

Wednesday's Smart Talk focuses on the ruling and what it means for Pennsylvania.

UPDATE Wednesday 3 p.m.:

Gov. Tom Corbett says he will not appeal the court ruling.  Same-sex marriage will remain legal.

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James Lloyd

Appearing on the program is Witold Walczak, an Americans Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania attorney, Michael Geer, President of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, and Dr. G. Terry Madonna, a political analyst and pollster at Franklin and Marshall College who can discuss polls that indicate Pennsylvanians attitudes toward same sex marriage have changed.

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Comments: 22

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-05-21 08:03

    Bonner from Annville emails:

    Chuck Colson observed many years ago that 'religious liberty and same sex marriage cannot coexist.'
    With homosexual marriage a possibility in PA, what can be done to protect religious freedoms from being taken away; like other states have through prosecution of bakers, wedding photographers, B&B owners, floral shops, private adoption agencies, etc.?

    • Bob Nunn img 2014-05-21 08:10

      One thing you could do is stop calling it homosexual marriage and call it what it is marriage.

    • Christy img 2014-05-21 12:58

      I think the judge was more concerned about protecting a basic right offered to many people in the world, and denied to so many others. The concern over business owner's choice to deny the gay couples services for their weddings: bakeries, flower shops, is more akin to segregation.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-05-21 08:12

    Pamela emails:

    Why is it in the states' or federal government's interest to recognize any marriages? Perhaps it would avoid some of the arguments and divisiveness for governments to stop recognizing marriage at all. Couldn't we still provide the same privileges/protections of marriage through other laws and by other means?

  • Bob Nunn img 2014-05-21 08:18

    Question for Mr. Geer, Looking at the suppression of people in Africa and what is happening their, why does he want to bring that to our country?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-05-21 08:31

    Blaine from York emails:

    PLEASE ASK THE COMMENTATOR HOW LONG IT WOULD HAVE TAKEN VA TO VOTE TO ALLOW INTER-RACIAL MARRIAGE?
    I was stationed on the eastern shore of VA in the late 80’s. Inter-racial marriage would not have won an election but slavery would have, would that have made either of them right.

  • Bob Nunn img 2014-05-21 08:35

    Mr geer, didn't women marry when they were in their teens...if you don't want to redefine marriage, why has that been stopped.

  • joylederman img 2014-05-21 08:42

    Do those opposed to same-sex marriage believe that marriage is ONLY for the purpose of bearing and raising children? What does this say about those of us who choose to enter child-free marriages? Are our two-person families less legitimate those with children?

    Also, the myth that "one man-one woman" is the age-old format of marriage is a total myth which should be challenged.

    • Christy img 2014-05-21 13:01

      This is an interesting point to consider since young people are increasingly choosing NOT to have children and NOT to marry. With the divorce rate where it is today, is anyone surprised? And doesn't this mean that societal norms are changing, as they constantly are?

  • gp img 2014-05-21 08:45

    Many comments seem to focus on the effect of children living in a non-traditional family. Is having children the only reason for people to get married? Do same-sex couples only want equal rights because they are interested in having children? Obviously the answer to both of those questions is no. What about all the other rights of marriage that have nothing to do with children? Aren't same sex couples (SSC) entitled to them? What percentage of SSCs have, or want to have, children? Is a child better off with one, or no, biological parents than being in a loving SSC's home?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-05-21 08:55

    Wayne emails:

    It seems self-evident that government should not withhold rights from people whose situation, such as race and sex, are genetically and biologically based. I have often wondered on what basis people are identified as homosexual. I have found no study that can identify any genetic or biologically basis. If the basis of homosexuality is genetic and biological, then government should not withhold the right to marry. But if homosexuality is behaviorally based, does it fall into a different category? Should we give legality to everyone's sexual impulse? Should government ever say "no" to sexual impulse? On what basis?

    • Christy img 2014-05-21 13:31

      That's a dangerous line to tread. Human sexuality and relationships between consenting adults cannot be compared to simple "sexual impulse." Sexual impulse can include a range of harmful actions such as rape .

      Anyways the behavior/ biology debate is tricky, since we don't question heterosexuality with the same scrutiny. Biologically speaking, about 1500 animal species, including dolphins and mallard ducks have same sex or bisexual pairings.

      The fact is that their are same sex couples in loving and committed relationships. Instead of debating WHY people are gay, perhaps it is best to remember that gay people are human beings with rights, who want the same opportunity for marriage as heterosexual couples.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-05-21 08:58

    Manuel emails:

    When the guest says that Marriage deals with children and having 2 parents together, does he support requiring persons who are barren, to never marry, since there is NO opportunity for them to parent children without taking children who are unwanted, the same as same-sex adoptive couples do?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-05-21 08:58

    Charlie emails:

    Aside from Greer's condescension and angry aggression, he's wrong on the law, which is the only relevant issue here.

    Ask him to read the 14th amendment, which gives all citizens--not just straights--equality of the law--not just the laws he chooses. The court ruled in favor of equality and freedom and against his bigotry.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-05-21 09:00

    Eric from Lancaster emails:

    I am a gay male who use to believe that marriage should only be between a man and woman. I did not want to offend, nor be a part of a Christian institution. I'm not Christian but believe their traditions should be respected. However, as I continued to think about the issue. There are many Americans who marry who are not religious in any manner and can still go to a court for a marriage license. Given this, I now believe that marriage is not a religious issue, and support the rights of my fellow Americans.

  • gp img 2014-05-21 09:02

    Many comments seem to focus on the effect of children living in a non-traditional family. Is having children the only reason for people to get married? Do same-sex couples only want equal rights because they are interested in having children? Obviously the answer to both of those questions is no. What about all the other rights of marriage that have nothing to do with children? Aren't same sex couples (SSC) entitled to them? What percentage of SSCs have, or want to have, children? Is a child better off with one, or no, biological parents than being in a loving SSC's home?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-05-21 09:03

    Manuel emails:

    I just wanted to express, that myself, my wife, and my entire, and sizable, church congregation are supporters of same-sex marriage. In fact, my lesbian daughter and her partner, attend, and are lovingly welcomed by my church in rural Chambersburg.

  • gp img 2014-05-21 09:03

    I also wonder about what EXACTLY is a one man-one woman union? Who defines that? What exactly is a man, what exactly is a woman? There are numerous genetic, read that natural, variants of the XX/XY genetic determination; XXX, Xo, XXY, testosterone insensitivity in XY, gyandromorphs, etc. These anomalies are not uncommon. A study from 1990 in Denmark found that 1 in 448 children had anomalies. Are these people not men and women? When a person is married no one checks their genetics or assesses their morphology. It is legal for someone that is an unaltered transexual to get married in what is actually a same sex couple so why shouldn't a "regular" same sex couple not be allowed the same right?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-05-21 09:09

    Bill writes:

    1. Have any rulings done recently given the "legal" definition of marriage, outside of the same sex issue?

    2. For example, is it a contract? Is it between adults only? If so, what about discriminating against children who want to marry? Or an adult who wants to marry a 13 year old?

    3. Is it between humans only? What about a person who wants to marry their pet dog?

    3. Before this is dismissed as ludicrous, doesn't changing the age old man/woman definition open a Pandora's box of diverse wild possibilities?


  • Stacie Weaver img 2014-05-21 10:43

    Bill, your questions about children and pets can be answered in the same manner. It's an issue of competence and ability to consent. Legally, children cannot consent to marriage. States vary on when they believe children CAN consent, but all agree that until a certain age, children are simply not capable of consent. This is similar to statutory rape laws, which say that a child, even if WILLING, cannot legally consent to a sexual act with an adult.

    Likewise, it is impossible to obtain consent from a dog or any other animal for marriage. Marriage is no longer a property issue (women are no longer considered livestock to be traded), and both parties must agree to marry. Animals do not comprehend concepts such as "marriage" (at least as far as we know), and so they cannot legally marry.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-05-22 08:01

    Maria emails:

    I am not discussing the legality of same sex marriage here. My question is: Is it really legal for one man/woman - one judge, to make such a tremendous decision as to legalize, or not, same sex marriage? It is amazing, and a bit frightening, that even a judge has such tremendous power.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-05-22 08:03

    Benjamin emails:

    I think the simple question to ask is would you rather defend a loving, same sex marriage or a hurtful, abusive opposite sex marriage?

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