All of that changed last week. Now, same-sex couples are free to marry in Pennsylvania. They will have equal access in all areas affected by marital status — taxes, adoption, inheritance, property rights, health care, etc. The landscape for same-sex couples literally changed almost 180 degrees in a moment.
But, the fact remains that in the great majority of the state, LGBT people can be fired, denied housing or barred entrance to a public place simply because of being LGBT. Pennsylvania is the only state that has marriage equality but yet does not have a law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation; two other marriage states also lack a law banning gender-identity discrimination.
This imbalance puts Pennsylvania in a very strange spot. Same-sex couples now can be issued a marriage license at their city hall but have a local venue refuse to rent them a hall to host their reception. They can add one another to their employer health-care plan but may lose their jobs anyway after announcing their wedding to coworkers. They can use their wedding gift money to hunt for a new apartment, but be denied that space because of their relationship.
Pennsylvania needed a marriage-equality law. But that doesn’t mean that’s all we need. We desperately need a basic nondiscrimination law — to protect not just same-sex couples but all LGBT people, who deserve the same freedoms and liberties that Judge John Jones wrote about in his landmark ruling last week.
May 20 marked a new day in Pennsylvania’s LGBT-rights movement, but it certainly didn’t mark the last day. This victory should be celebrated, but it should also be utilized to attain other victories — most pressing, the passage of an LGBT nondiscrimination law.