First, the simple fact: There was an overwhelming sea of Democratic candidates in Pennsylvania who were for marriage equality. Few, if any, made it a major part of their campaigns. And it should be noted that, thanks to the chair of the State Democratic Committee, James Burn, marriage equality became an official position of the state party in 2012.
But there was a second, more earth-shattering political connection to the issue that should make other candidates for office take note. There was one candidate who put his support for marriage equality upfront and right in the face of every Pennsylvanian. His name is state Sen. Mike Stack, who ran for lieutenant governor. His campaign ran a commercial in which, when listing his accomplishments, Stack actually stated that he is a proud sponsor of marriage equality, followed by his position on women and guns. That is impressive, and historic, since he is believed to be the first politician to proactively feature marriage equality in a campaign commercial. And, in a state where the Republicans are still in the stone age on the subject, it was brave.
His reward, the populace spoke loudly. He won overwhelmingly. Translation: Marriage equality is now an issue that the general public understands and can now be an issue that can be used to win elections. Republicans should take note ... Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey did so early; when the court in his state ruled for marriage equality, his administration decided to allow that ruling to stand and, thus, New Jersey has marriage equality.
But Republicans, and even the Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm of the state’s Catholic dioceses, and others throughout the state have a different problem. Pennsylvania also does not have the simplest form of nondiscrimination protection for the LGBT community. There are the votes to pass it, but the republicans and the Catholic Conference (the strongest lobby against the legislation) have consistently worked against it and won’t allow it to come up for a vote.
Why the Republicans and the Catholic Conference continue to victimize the LGBT community is unthinkable in a day when most people just wish to live our lives in harmony. To deny simple civil rights is hateful and cruel.
Pope Francis, are you paying attention?
Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. He can be reached at email@example.com.