PA Bar Association backs marriage equality

PA Bar Association backs marriage equality

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Days before Pennsylvania adopted marriage equality, the leadership of the Pennsylvania Bar Association approved its first-ever resolution backing marriage equality.

The PBA House of Delegates voted in favor of the resolution May 16 during its annual meeting in Hershey, two days after the PBA board of governors voted 18-3, with two abstentions, for the resolution.

The PBA represents 27,000 attorneys across the state. Earlier this year, the Philadelphia Bar Association backed a similar resolution.

The resolution, drafted by the association’s GLBT Rights Committee and Family Law Section, said Pennsylvania’s recently overturned law created “second-tier marriages,” “unjustly harm[ed]” same-sex spouses and their families and caused “significant economic, social and political disadvantage when trying to attract and retain LGBT-friendly businesses and employees.”

With the adoption of the resolution, the PBA “endorses full marriage equality for all same-sex couples, spouses and their families residing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Dan Clifford, chair of the Family Law Section, noted that recent polls have shown a majority of Pennsylvanians support marriage equality, and the numbers are significantly higher among young people.

“These people are the future of our organization,” Clifford said. “They’re the ones who may be reluctant to join if this had been voted down because this generation does not see a problem with marriage equality.”

While same-sex marriage is now legal in Pennsylvania, Clifford noted PBA’s backing could help persuade lawmakers who are undecided on supporting the issue.

“There are legislators out there who are on the fence, who may have conservative districts in parts of the state that may not receptive to the concept. And this may send a message to those fence-sitting legislators,” he said. “Here is a broad, statewide group of 27,000 lawyers who support this. It could provide whatever coverage and support they need to make the right decision.”

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