LGBT rallies signal rejuvenated fight for Pennsylvania equality

greenThe Supreme Court ruled both the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional on Wednesday. And for a short period of time, all over the country, it was time to celebrate.

By 10am, Twitter was ablaze with reactions—both positive and negative—about the ruling. Political television and radio had an issue to eat up their entire day. Most importantly, many of your Facebook friends again changed their avatars to a red equal sign, or some variation of it.

Democrat groups around the country sent out press releases touting the decisions by the court, and Republicans, well…Republicans sort of just sat there.

In Philadelphia, the reaction was mostly positive, though most residents in support of LGBT rights understood the harsh reality of what the decisions meant for us in the immediate: Nothing, basically.

Since gay marriage isn’t legal in Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania is not California, the ruling didn’t effect the commonwealth’s residents.

But at two gatherings Tuesday afternoon and evening, many took it as a sign of things to come in the most LGBT-hostile state in the northeast. And the overarching message was clear: It’s time for Pennsylvania to ride history’s coattails.

“As you all know, history was made today and for many of us, this is something we’ve been waiting for for a lifetime,” Brian Green, director of SafeGuards LGBT Health Resource Center in Philadelphia, told a crowd of about 100 at Independence Mall. “Those very young people who weren’t born when DOMA was first enacted in 1996 have lived their entire lifetimes with a federal government that did not acknowledge our equality in this important area of our lives.”

Several speakers, including lawyers and activists, spoke at the rally, including Rev. Jeffrey Jordan, an openly gay pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church of Philadelphia. He led several chants which the crowd repeated. Philadelphia’s rallies were just two of several all over the state and country.

“I’m not gonna stop,” Jordan said, which the crowd repeated in a ‘mic-check’ fashion, “until equality’s won. I’m not gonna stop until equality is won in Pennsylvania.”

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Though the Mall rally was scheduled to go from 6pm-9pm, it only lasted about an hour before the Philadelphia Freedom Band, an LGBT marching band based in the city, went on and played a ton of sweet tunes, like “Don’t stop believing.” The crowd dispersed soon afterwards.

In Center City, supporters of LGBT rights began gathering at Pop-Up Garden, a new beer garden in the lot next to the Broad Street Ministry, near Broad and Pine. This event, which was more casual, was put together by Equality Forum and its executive director, Malcolm Lazin, who told PW this morning’s rulings were “exactly the result that I expected.”

“I was hoping maybe the chief justice would join [the five Supreme Court justices in favor of overturning DOMA and Prop 8] because he is the chief justice and this is a historic civil rights decision, and I would’ve thought he would have wanted to be on the right side of history,” Lazin told Philadelphia Weekly at the event.

He additionally noted that 30 percent of the U.S. population live in states that provide same-sex marriage—a new high. Lazin, a former Republican City Council candidate, took issue with the fact that Pennsylvania is not one of those states.

“Pennsylvania is, from the viewpoint of LGBT civil rights, neanderthal. We are literally at the bottom of the rung with Mississippi and Alabama and … it’s really because we’ve got a state legislature that is totally and completely out of touch with the tide of history and with the electorate,” he added. “[Republicans can] read the results [of the 2012 presidential election] or they can be a dinosaur, and go the way of dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were once very big, but they’re no longer around because they were unable to adapt. It’s really that simple. So, those who can adapt can ultimately survive and those who can’t will end up marginalizing themselves.”

Follow Randy on Twitter: @RandyLoBasso

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